- Audio CD (17 Aug. 2009)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: XL
- ASIN: B002DESIE6
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | CD-ROM
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (177 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,444 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
xx (Digipack) CD
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Debut studio album by the English indie pop group. The album features the singles 'Crystalised', 'Basic Space', 'Islands' and 'VCR' and won the 2010 Mercury Prize.
The xx, like Burial’s William Bevan and Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden, studied at Elliott School in Putney, a pleasant south-west London suburb. But on the basis of this sleek debut this ice-cool quartet could surpass the achievements of their secondary school alumni.
Naming an album opener Intro prepares listeners for low expectations, so it's a great surprise when the track snakes in with a tightly coiled riff initially reminiscent of Casiokids' ace Fot I Hose. It doesn't turn into an immense house-echoing banger like the Norwegians’ tune, but when beats do arrive they're heavy enough for dubstep.
If Intro is a template for xx's simple, minimalist songs, VCR sets a precedent for winning vocal interplay between Romy Madley Croft and bassist Oliver Sim. With Jamie Smith's simple chiming production suggesting a nod to Brooklyn wonders Chairlift, Croft emotes breathily: “You used to have all the answers and you, you still have them, too.” Sim, meanwhile, sighs like a regretful Lou Reed.
A seemingly unlikely influence it may be, but amid the deep house beats of Island, the melody from Tom Petty's I Won't Back Down makes an appearance. Despite the incongruity, the motif evokes a sense of quiet triumph.
Fans of the midnight guitar in Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game will appreciate Infinity. While reverb-swollen chords drift by, Croft is hell-bent on mimicking Mazzy Star chanteuse Hope Sandoval in front of the microphone. And she succeeds beautifully.
Every song here is an enigmatic and moody blend of smoky crooning, nimble keyboard trickery and slippery treble-heavy riffs. Such self-awareness and focus is commendable given so few experienced bands, let alone newcomers, can manage it.
Yet xx’s consistency is also its sole undoing. The xx have perfected one formula but appear scared to develop any more, wary of branching into different tempos or styles. Fortunately this fault is not fatal – after all, many successful bands, from Oasis to AC/DC, have only ever had one killer idea.
Whether The xx plough on in the same noir direction of this debut or pursue new tangents, it must be hoped the Londoners are able to maintain their affecting hold on the listener whatever the stylistic surface. --Lou Thomas
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Top Customer Reviews
The package arrived one day in advance. Good. Problem is, as soon as I started playing it, I noticed something was wrong. The first track, "Intro", kept popping and skipping. Like, a lot. Then I saw it. A huge scratch on the first half of the track. It was so bad at a point the song was actually stuck. I tried rubbing it with some toothpaste to smoothen it a bit - now it still skips, but at least it doesn't get stuck. In hindsight, it probably wasn't a bad idea, since I might not be able to return it now.
The rest of side A goes pretty smoothly. Can't say the same for side B though: in several points there are weird scratches and it often skips (in "Basic Space", for example).
Such a shame. And super weird, since it's supposed to be new.
from school and have been playing nothing else over
the past week. They've dumped their hoodies (it was
red bandanas before that!) and reverted to basic black.
They also seem to be reading Schopenhauer again
- their Mother's influence not mine I hasten to add.
I seem to have found something to like in this music too.
The xx are a somewhat po-faced but very talented
little combo from South London. This debut collection
of 11 compositions is relentlessly and uncompromisingly
single-minded in its sustained intensity.
It's hard to imagine them sitting around together
drinking cider and watching Father Ted re-runs.
This is much more Jacques Brel and absinthe territory !
Seriousness becomes them.
The combined vocal contributions of Ms Croft and
Mr Sim create a charmingly laconic ambience.
There is a total absence of frenzy. In fact nothing
much happens throughout in the nicest possible way.
'Infinity' is a splendid composition. The closest
thing to a climax in the entire project.
The spirit of Hank Marvin might well be smiling in the wings.
'Night Time' is a marvelously morose little ditty
and for my money its starkly economical, pared-down,
minimalism is the album's gloomy highlight.
Jamie Smith's beats and Baria Qureshi's well-judged
keyboard interventions are entirely complementary to
the centrally positioned Croft/Sim double-act.
Concluding track 'Stars' made me remember acutely
what it was like to be young and intense and delirious
with dark and serious dreams.
On buying the album I was a little disappointed to find the album to be very one-dimensional. 'Intro' and 'VCR' start things well but as song after song, sung in the same dull monotone, continue things begin to blur into one. By the time we get to single 'Basic Space' I was feeling suicidal to be honest! There are some good points - the beats are sublime and well produced as are the exquisite basslines.
I have listened to this record maybe 15 times now and am still as bored. Once you get past the NME hype you realise that this is just yet more dark, dreary, guitar ploddery posing itself as intelligent mood music. Listen and see what I mean - every song is at the same slow tempo pretty much, both singers ranges seem to encompass about 4 notes and the songwriting skills need plenty more development. Here's hoping they find it because the dynamic of the band is there. More variety next time please !!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fantastic album, bought as a Christmas present and they love it too.Published 1 month ago by Becks2810
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