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The xx Coexist
Released 7 September 2012
Producer Jamie Smith
Label Young Turks
Length 37:33
Genre Indie pop
Website thexx.info

"A light reflects from your shadow, it is more that I thought could exist", sings Romy Madley Croft on the opening track 'Angels' from The xx’s second album Coexist. The lyrics continue in this vain throughout. The lyrics are quite simple at times and very easy to make out. Madley Croft sings the whole of 'Angels' but usually vocals are shared with bassist Oliver Sim.

I’m not that familiar with The xx’s self titled debut album from 2009 other than hearing their songs on the odd TV soundtrack. All eleven tracks here have short titles. The first nine tracks have just single word titles.

'Angels' also has a thumping bass drum mixed well with some Interpol-esque guitar play. The follow-up single 'Chained' follows 'Angels' but with Sim taking control of the vocals. I’m not a fan of having the singles at the start of an album. I find that they should be spread out more to entice the listener to follow through with the album as a whole and not just hit stop after the first ten minutes. What are the odds of third track 'Fiction' being the next single?

My favourite song here is 'Reunion' which features some steel drums which mix impeccably with Jamie Smith’s sparse synths and beats. This is a definite stand out. Some parts of the album remind me of the quieter side of Massive Attack’s Protection album especially the tracks that Tracey Thorn sings. There are some real similarities between Thorn and Madley Croft. The haunting echoed vocals on 'Missing' are a case in point.

'Tides' has this almost, dare I say it, funky bass line. This really goes away from the feel of the rest of the album but perhaps the band were thinking maybe that’s a possible way to go in the future. This is a brilliant song but hopefully they’ll feel a little braver to change things a little.

The penultimate track 'Swept Away' is the longest tracks here, reaching the dizzying height of five minutes and features some quirky keyboard sounds before a heavy bass beat kicks in mid-way. The bass lines on the album closer 'Our Song' teases the listener into thinking that this is going to take off into some kind of big climax but unfortunately nothing develops which was a little disappointing.

All in all, and considering the hype behind this album, I think The xx have produced a fine album. I’m just a little disappointed they didn’t come out of their comfort zone a little more.

- Leon Byrne