Mercury Prize.

So The xx are favorites. Here is a review I did of their album last year on my old site Dirty Sexy Music. I think there are still mp3 links available of some songs so you might find some stuff in the archives if you want to check it out.

Monday, 17 August 2009
As far as being excited for albums this year, this one ranks definitely up there. Judged from the three demos that made there way around a few months back, it was clear there was something special going on with The xx. In a year where synths and 80’s throwbacks are in vogue, it’s strange that a band whose sound aesthetic is so low key, could grab so much attention.

I’ve read various interviews with them, and it’s been stated that the reason the band have this minimalist sound is because they wanted to create songs which they could always play live in exactly the same way. It seems such a simple motive, yet this sound has been so perfectly executed, anything added would not only seem pointless, but also detract from the charm of the group.

The only band I could possibly compare them to is The Kills, and not because of the male/female vocals, it’s just with The Kills, a drum machine and Allison’s wonderful voice were all you needed, however this appears worlds away from anything when you listen. It’s not so much chemistry between the two vocalists, Oliver Sim and Romy Madley – Croft, they both appear to be singing not to each other at certain times, but from different points of view. Whether it’s how far they go on a first date on ‘Stars’ (Oliver can ‘Give it all’, Romy can ‘draw the line’) or disagreeing on whether to ‘give it up’ on ‘Infinity’, the deep cool male vocals set against female vocals which are neither feminine or intense, they just both seem to ache.

Because the construct of the songs is simple, it’s easy to think that you’d find the album becomes blurred into one song, it’s just the standard of songs is so high you find yourself treating each one on merit, cherishing those 3 minutes and appreciating all the subtleties that lie in the basslines and timing of each rapport. Probably the most far reached a song goes on the album is ‘Islands’. A beautiful song featuring the most buoyant beat which matches the content of the song. They’ve both found love and they never want to leave. The rest of the album isn’t so much all melancholy songs, just the content is perfectly suited to the music. ‘Intro’ doesn’t need to bother with vocals, yet although the vocals are what sets this apart from anything at the moment, it goes to show just how musically flawless it is.

As an album, it plays through beautifully. There is no track to skip. The highlights get lost in a world of perfection, where you appreciate the sharpness and mutedness of a band that cannot fail to succeed, because they’ve got the perfect formula.


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