Published on September 9th, 2012 | by greg0
The xx: Coexist:: Review
Insular trio the xx return for a sophomore set, Coexist, that feels like a natural extension of their eponymous debut. Coexist doesn’t really expand on the xx’s spare sound so much as it subtracts. Coexist is an atmospheric album composed of warm spaces that subtly enhances the band’s restrained combination of angular guitar, bass and deft percussion. The lovelorn vocals of Romy Madley-Croft and Oliver Sim once again provide the color to Jamie Smith’s rain-soaked soundscapes as they dissect relationships of varying statuses.
Coexist opens with the chiming “Angels,” that finds Madley-Croft in familiar territory but doesn’t accelerate until the second track, “Chained” which propels itself along with laser-like precision on a narrow synth line. Oliver Sim’s confident solo vocal, “Fiction” is one of the album’s first standout tracks that builds upon the band’s momentum and recalls “Fantasy” from the first album. The glacial R&B of “Try” disrupts the flow of the album which is again relocated on the steel-drum inflected “Reunion.”
The second side of Coexist presents the duality that the xx is known for where dance rhythms and dirges exchange an uneasy settlement. The rubbery bass lines and insistent percussion of “Sunset” mark the return of a fleeting dance floor rhythm before the narcotic vibe of “Missing” threatens to submerge the proceedings. This push-pull aesthetic culminates with the ethereal “Our Song,” which finds the xx expertly brandishing U2′s misplaced thunder. Coexist is a solid effort from the xx that builds as it deducts and makes you wonder how minimal the band’s next effort will be.