The xx’s “I See You” is experimental yet still retains an indie sound

Courtesy of Young Turks

The xx’s third album, “I See You,” was released on Jan. 13, 2017 and is the band’s first project in four years. Compared to 2012’s “Coexist,” their third album experiments in the dance and electronic genre, yet still holds the indie sound that is present in their past albums.

The first track, “Dangerous” experiments with different instruments while creating a sound that anyone can dance to. The bass that appears in the background repeats in subtle moments and reminds me of their earlier music where instruments were subtly used in the background.

The repeating trumpet and saxophone that play in the chorus does not created a crowded instrumental background. Instead, they create an effortless sound that mixes all the instruments yet does not overpower the vocalists’ voices. Compared to the rest of the album, “Dangerous” has the most energetic instrumentals without feeling out of place on the rest of the project.

The second track and single from the album, “Say Something Loving” offers a slowed down and mellow atmosphere for listeners. Vocalists Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim’s voices play off each other as they represent two lovers reviving their feelings of love and passion. Compared to the first track, “Say Something Loving” subdues its instrumentals to let Croft and Sim’s voices lead the track. The phrase “before it slips away” begins the song and is repeated throughout the song to emphasize on the lover’s desperation of trying to hold on to the feelings of love.

The lead single, “On Hold,” is the most experimental song in the album. Featuring electronic sounds, with the bass having a more dominant sound than the last songs, “On Hold” is about two people trying to lengthen their failed relationship. The song also samples Hall and Oates’ “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do),” and the sample helps emphasize the frustration the two people feel when trying to extend their already broken relationship. While the production and background instrumentals sometimes overpower Croft and Sim’s voices in “On Hold,” these moments don’t last long as the sampling helps mute the instrumentals just in time for the vocals to begin.

The final track, “Test Me” ends the album with an instrumental outro after a beginning verse by Croft and Sim. “Test Me” begins with somber vocals as a piano is softly played in the background. Even though the instrumental outro has a darker and more serious tone compared to the rest of the album, it’s simple sound also emits the gentleness of a lullaby as it diminuendos into silence.
While I have never listened to the indie and alternative dance genre before, The xx’s “I See You” is a great choice for anyone willing to experiment with a genre outside of their comfort zone. The harmonizing voices of Croft and Sim accompanied by Jamie xx’s dance and electronic-inspired instrumentals make “I See You” an album that one can listen to at any time and in any mood throughout the day.

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