Intimacy is something with which The xx are very familiar. Their third studio album, I See You, is no exception. The London trio are back after five years to illustrate the hardships of love with their notorious minimalistic instrumentals and abstract lyrics. From start to finish, this is a representation of a relationship in its entirety.
To start off the album, “Dangerous” mirrors the beginning of a relationship. Both are exciting, daring and taking a chance to try something new. The xx quickly establish that they have been experimenting with new instruments beyond a keyboard and drum pad.
The next two songs, “Say Something Loving” and “Lips,” dive into the hardships of love, with themes that discuss becoming emotionless and the burdens that come along with love. A new distinct sound continues through these songs, especially with the grabbing combination of vocals and guitar in “Lips.”
Romi Croft breaks apart from Oliver Sim to express her insecurities in “Performance,” arguably one of the best new songs. Croft gently tears her heart out to show the world how much she tries to be noticed by someone who doesn’t care. The song is tied together at the end with slicing violins that really show how distressful the experience is.
Pre-released single “On Hold” serves as a staple to the album. When released back in November, the song was an early example of the experimentation that would be showcased. It’s an important part of the album and a relationship because it denotes a change of emotion. Previously, it mainly consisted of feeling distraught. Now, there is a sense of clarity, realizing that some things are better left apart. The uplifting chorus gives the impression that everything is going to be OK.
To end I See You, The xx slow it down with “Test Me.” This perfect ending really emphasizes the conclusion of a relationship. The contrast between the slowed instrumentals and screeching background noise creates a feeling of an immense sense of blame.
The beauty of this album is the diversity of each song. After the first listen, each title is memorable because it’s emotionally linked to sonics and lyrics of the song itself. Unlike the band’s previous albums, each song features a different instrument or technique that personalizes them all. Like new relationships, this is a daring move; one that works really well.
In the five years it took to produce I See You, it appears that The xx experienced both budding romance and its disintegration. All of the emotion and pain attached to this experience is painted throughout this album. Between the emotion found in the lyrics and the experimentation of the instruments, it’s an early candidate for album of the year.
Follow writer Joey Reams at Twitter.com/Joeyreams94.