It is a joy to report that all is well on planet xx. Their 2010 debut was
a stunner; as single minded a celebration of the dark dreams of youth as
it is possible to imagine. Romy Croft and Oliver Sim's capacity to make
us feel both a first kiss and the edge of the grave in the same breath
endeared them to a generation (or three) in search of a sound which might
come somewhere close to pinning down our feelings in these troubled times.
That they do so with such conviction and elan is a tribute to their singular
craftsmanship and uncompromising vision. 'Coexist' delivers further revelations.
The eleven songs in this new collection are really quite painfully magnificent.
Each terse title; each elusive but curiously heart-warming melody; each
spare but perfectly punctuated arrangement has such immediate impact on our
emotions that it is impossible to imagine how it could have been bettered.
The rhythmic structure of several of the compositions have greater presence
and definition than their earlier work and this turns out to be a canny
development. Numbers such as 'Chained', 'Sunset' and especially 'Tides',
despite their gloomy narratives, set our toes tapping despite ourselves but
highly disciplined sonic restraint remains the order of the day. Ms Croft and
Mr Sim were clearly born to sing together. Rarely have two voices sounded so
at home with one another. The keening guitar and measured vocal performances
of 'Try' (surely their finest moment?) wraps its hands round your guts and
pulls something quite remarkably moving out of the depths; the deliberately
measured unison entreaties of 'Tides' (the absence of harmony is a surprising
strength); the fragile, fractured but nonetheless uplifting progress of
'Swept Away' and the beautifully simple and simply beautiful final track
'Our Song' all prove beyond doubt that this fiercely talented ensemble are
here for the long haul. This is an experience to savour and truly treasure.