Released: Aug 17, 2009
Genre: Indie Rock, Dream Pop
Label: Young Turks
Number Of Tracks: 11
Ultimately, this album is great to listen to while relaxing or if you're trying to find some peace and quiet.
Bananafish003, on october 24, 2011 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: In an age where maximalism rules as the dominant form of emotive expression, this band dares to be different. The sound is extremely minimal. Guitars are used sparingly for simple, melodic lines and the bass is often arranged even more sparsely. There's lots of drum machines and some atmospheric synth sounds, too. The mood is calm, but sometimes unsettlingly so. We are so used to hearing lush arrangements that often, music as empty as this can shock us, as it did to me on my first listen. Over time, though. I grew to love the quiet nature of the album, realizing that The XX can still convey a wide spectrum of emotion with a small sonic palette. Listen to the desperation on "Infinity", the plea for forgiveness on "Shelter", or the calm happiness that is "VCR". It's an old cliche, but this band really proves that less is more. // 10
Lyrics and Singing: The lyrics deal with a lot of sexual frustration and relationship problems, though not in the traditional sense we've come to expect from a lot of bands dealing with the same subject. The lyrics are direct and to-the-point, with choruses like "Maybe I had said/Something that was wrong, /Can I make it better/With the lights turned on?" and "I can't give it up/To someone else's touch/Because I can't do much." The singers (one male, one female) sound quiet and sometimes lost in the space surrounding the music, which suits the mood perfectly. The best moments on the album are when both singers play off each other, such as the coda at the end of "Infinity", where they repeat their moaning laments over and over: "Give it up...", "I can't give it up..." // 8
Impression: It's becoming more and more prominent in many genres of music: If you feel intense emotions, you're supposed to scream them at the top of your lungs in a swirling of rock guitars and violins. The XX do the opposite of this, stripping away the unnecessary bells and whistles often added where they are not needed. They leave us with a sound that is clean, but not sterile, quiet, but not boring. It may be a little difficult to get into, as the sound is very different from most of what you might have heard before, but it grows on you after a while and really ingrains itself in your consciousness. I recommend that everyone go check them out, regardless of what genre of music you normally listen to. // 9
Abanazar, on september 27, 2010 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: The XX are a much-hyped new British band. Their combination of emotional lyrics and spacious, melodic arrangement has won them many fans.
'XX' was recorded at night, which obviously affected the recording process. The music is quiet, almost non-existent at times; reverb-laden guitar parts usually comprise the melody, with the bass adding to the quiet and the drum machine punctuating it. The vocals tend to float on top of the music instead of joining with it.
The XX's sound is their secret weapon. Instead of simply boring people by being too quiet, it enhances the emotion of the vocals and forces the melody into your ears. // 9
Lyrics and Singing: One of the many unusual aspects of the band's formula is that they have two very different-sounding vocalists. Olly Sim and Romy Madley-Croft duet on every song, usually singing alternating verses and then coming together to sing the chorus.
This approach, though slightly repetetive, makes it feel as though the pair are singing to each other, making the album feel incredibly personal and intimate. When they sing the end of 'Heart Skipped a Beat' together
'Heart skipped a beat
And when I caught it you were out of reach
But I'm sure, I'm sure
You've heard it before'
it almost feels like the listener is hearing two lovers lamenting the end of a relationship or something similar, and it makes you feel awkwardly emotional.
However, this approach doesn't always work, especially on 'Basic Space', where Olly Sim's voice suits the music much better than Madley-Crofts. It feels imbalanced. // 7
Impression: The worst thing about 'XX' is that it is so close to being brilliant. The spacious sound, raw emotion and basic melody should add together to make musical gold, but it just feels as if there's something fundamentally wrong with the band's formula. It's hard to pin down where the problem lies. It could be the lack of a drummer, or lack of exploration in the lyrics, or it could simply be that it's all too quiet.
They deserved the Mercury Prize, if only for trying something new, but we should really be looking toward the XX's future, because surely better albums lie ahead. // 6
unregistered, on february 15, 2010 1 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: The XX is a band consisting of Oliver, Romy, Jamie and former guitarist Baria all from South West London, UK. The XX debut album resonates a dream like sound that is carried with echo filled riffs and stiff bass lines. Their influences include pop sensations like Aaliyah and Rihanna and fellow UK rockers like The Kills and The Cure. The fact that The XX's album was recorded at night contributes to their soft sound. It was a breathe of fresh air hearing a different take on pop music. // 9
Lyrics and Singing: 01. Intro: the song sounds exactly like what it's named. This intro provides a foundation of their overall sound. An apparent drum beat, an echo'd guitar, thick bass lines, fantasy synth and coherent vocals. 7.
02. VCR: the XX pop influences are prevailant in this song. It carries a cheery mood. Romy (lead guitar and vocals) sings in a pleasing whisper fashion. Oliver (bass and vocals) balances the song with his harmonizing deep voice. 7.
03. Crystalised: very intriguing in the style of the harmonizing guitars throughout the song. The lyrics in this song show an intimate theme. 9.
04. Islands: this song is a good example of having a band without an actual drummer. It shows emotion but with stagnant and still vocals. 5. Heart Skipped a Beat- I like the variations of riffs with the guitar. I like the use of their dream like sound. Although most of the variation is provided by Romy. 6.
06. Fantasy: another song that sounds exactly like what it is. The whispery sound makes me want to fall asleep. It provides a good background for R.E.M. though. 5.
07. Shelter: this song features Romy singing behind bass riffs and backing guitar. The lyrics are a kind of dark nostalgia. It makes me sad really. 8.
08. Basic Space: I like the drum effect with this song. The emptyness of the song is pleasing to hear. It's a dead pop that easy to listen to. 9.
09. Infinity: this intro to this song is like the male verson of Shelter, the song previously sung by Romy. This adds to the dream sound of The XX. Their echo and dream theme hasn't not gone off track. 8.
10. Night Time: the sort of minimalist style of the guitar. I like the idle variation of soft sound. I don't think any other style would suit the theme of this album. 8.
11. Stars: I like the piano incorporated into this song. The instruments in this song work well together to create the ideal melancholic sound. 8.
12. Hot Like Fire: this song is a cover song by Aaliyah. I like how it sounds so different than the original. This vision is completely different but The XX makes it their own song. 9. // 8
Impression: I like the point of view of The XX towards pop. Ultimately, this album is great to listen to while relaxing or if you're trying to find some peace and quiet. So far the most catchy song in this album has to be Crystalised. It's their anthem for the whole album. I don't like, however, how their vocals remain the same style, it doesn't feel as if the passion could contribute to any other sound. Overall, I like the relaxed feel of this album and it stands out due to it's minimalistic nature. // 9