Some three years after their critcally acclaimed self-titled debut, The xx decide the time is ripe to release a new album, Coexist.
I’m going to be blunt here; I fail to see the appeal this band have managed to garner and the hype surrounding their work. Their debut album was, in my opinion, extremely lack-lustre and I honestly don’t understand the attraction. There was nothing remarkable about it other than that it was a “different” and “edgy” production being brought to the mass-market. That’s it. Listening to xx was cool because it made people look like they had diversity in their music library while it had no immediately compelling features. I don’t know who their label or advertisers are but they did a fantastic job at promoting this underwhelming outfit.
The story, predictably, continues with their latest LP Coexist. In fact it arguably gets worse for The xx have, with their “trailblazing” and niche sound, shut themselves into a corner they cannot possibly hope to get themselves out of. Their sonic style was so distinct there was only one thing to do with the hole they had dug; dig deeper. I kind of feel for them in this regard actually; had they done away with their sound and mixed things up they would have been panned by fans, but inaction would also make it seem like they were stagnating, so they took the lesser of two evils.
Honestly, I seldom come across albums so devoid of anything interesting as Coexist. The entire affair only lasts a meagre 36 minutes but every spin feels like hours of torment, trapped in a bland and uninspiring wash of soulless, ambiguous lyrics and shallow electronic sequences. I feel like I could sit in an empty room in silence for the same length of time and come away feeling more productive. I will admit that there were a few moments where the guitars caught me with some nice riffs and reverb and I thought “hmm, that’s pretty cool”, like on “Fiction” for instance, but those moments were rare and not consistent throughout a track. The light drumming (possible drum machine) and unimaginative, simplistic synth sequences were equally boring and predictable, adding almost nothing to the songs themselves. In some ways, just the vocals on their own acapella-style would have been a better avenue than the crappy, babby’s first synth they went with.
As you might already be aware, I’m not enjoying this album, at all. It feels so hollow and shallow, like there’s nothing of value or interest and everything is just a show for pandering to the masses. Every track is just filled with empty space sprinkled with a few half-assed lyrics, spoken with almost no conviction or passion whatsoever.
“I saw you again
It felt like we had never met
It’s like the sunset in your eyes
I never want to erase”
Maybe it’s a bit cynical of me to say, but maybe they didnt mix up the sound simply because it’s a guaranteed formula for making money. People, god help them, actually did enjoy their last album, so why bother, right? It’s funny that, while so many people proferred their previous album, and this also, as incredible “alternative music” for the pop lovers, it’s nothing more than filtered pop music with a mask on. While it might not have the hooks or the beats, it has the same insignificant, emotionless monotony as the rest of them.
p.s, if you want something like The xx but with, you know, actual emotion and a modicum of thoughtfulness + gorgeous vocals, mmpsuf’s “Retina” LP is a great little Minimal/Art-Pop record.