woensdag 15 februari 2017

I See You. The xx

Both albums of The xx have featured in WoNo Magazine as has the solo album of Jamie xx. Recently I bought the debut album on LP. Playing is nothing but an astonishing experience. The music suits vinyl in a great way. And now the new album is here for a few days and I'm listening to it for the first time. Just listening to three songs I know I am going to write about it, but it's important to digest it all in a serious way. So patience is the word before I continue. (21-1)

(23-1) After the second listen session, I am wondering what to do with I See You. Oh, yes, there's quality. On the other hand, it is so different from what I expected. Which could be a good thing, read my recent The Kik review for example. The feeling I'm getting half of the time, is that I'm listening to a slightly modernised version of Adele. That was something I did not see coming and also something I'm not happy about. My mood changes and I hear these beautiful songs. I'm confused.

Some sounds on the album are familiar, yet there are all these extras. Do I like them or am I in love with the echoes and empty spaces in the music of The xx? Fact is, I read somewhere that Romy Madley-Croft sings better on I See You and I can only agree. This is a young woman, totally comfortable with her voice and at ease with what she is singing. This takes nothing away from Oliver Sim, but there is a difference. So the first positive point is scored.

What I am absolutely certain of is that the cover art is stunning. The logo is completely in place, yet, The xx is on the cover, in an alternate form. The blue and the shadowy black contrasts in a beautiful way. Vague, yet clear, and a lot of (sun?) light. The second point scored.

(13-2) Some weeks on, I can hear that The xx is trying to do something new. In one of the interviews with the band I read that they allow themselves a party element. In that obviously the influence of Jamie xx on the music must have grown. In 2017 we all are familiar with his solo album and how that differs from The xx. Just listen to how I See You opens. A thick bass sound, percussion sounds fills my head in 'Dangerous'. There's horns or better sounds like horns, presented in percussive way. 'Dangerous' is quite a statement, coming back to my inhibitions where The xx are concerned.

I truly think that a third album fully in typical The xx style would have been one too many. I See You seen from this angle can be taken as an album by a band in transition. The thing is that this is only the band's third album since 2009. In other words I may be way too old before this development has found its true nest. The Beatles had all but broken up in this same timespan.

So even after listening for about a month, I still have my doubts. On the one hand I hear a beautiful song like 'Replica', yes, it does remind me of the first albums and a great song like 'Say Something Loving', which hardly reminds me of what went before, on the other I hear a few songs that really do not touch/move me. Literally or figuratively. They just go into one ear and out the other. The xx never must have wanted that effect when working on these songs.

Where the mix between The xx and the party really works in 'On Hold'. The mix of The xx, U2 guitar playing and hip hop/dance really gets together. Moving audiences are quite easy to imagine while listening. It is with songs like these that The xx gets the benefit of my doubt for I See You.

Perhaps it just takes a little more effort before things really become alright between us. The fact that I'm still playing the debut album, ought to say enough. The music on I See You still has that coolness that is a signature for the sound of the band. Where more and more artist surface emulating that atmosphere filled with emptiness, The xx moves in another direction. And, that Alison Moyet feel wore off after a while, I'm glad to say. It may just be time for me to start moving along. Listening again to 'I Dare You', I put my second foot on the train, deciding to catch it and not to remain behind on the platform.

(14-2) It's time to publish.


You can listen to 'On Hold' here:


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