The xx Perfect Depressive Pop

by: Emily Kirkpatrick

September 4, 2012

Three, long years after the release of The xx’s debut self-titled album, the mysterious, ridiculously cool British trio have finally released their sophomore record, Coexist. The xx have by now, crafted a highly distinguished reputation amongst fans and critics alike. As the release date for Coexist approached, it seemed impossible for anything The xx could realistically produce to live up to the unbelievable hype and build up of this album. Yet, undaunted, the group have started streaming their album for free a week before CDs hit stores.

An xx album seems to always require a lot of time and great care, not only in the actual crafting of the record, but in the listening as well. Hearing Coexist feels as though you’re being let in on a secret; The xx expect you to take as much time and effort in the reception of their confidences as they put into the telling of them. On first hearing the album, the songs can sound indistinguishable, overly simplistic, and all too familiar. But upon repeated listens, the album grows on you and manages to strike a cord on a level of deep emotional resonance. As with their first album, a singular listen can never fully do justice to their nuanced expression of anguished, melancholy emotions. 

Throughout Coexist there is a pounding intensity of feeling that is only thinly masked behind the plinking guitars and hushed, almost whispered lyrics. This introspective second album is unexpectedly powerful and insightful. Each track manages to perfectly balance The xx’s propensity for the heartbreaking and the haunting with addictive dance beats, guitar licks, and the occasional steel drum. There is nothing surprising about Coexist, the band’s transcendent, pulsing sound has long been firmly established, but this is a strong second effort. After much anticipation The xx have delivered; delving into their aesthetic while simultaneously managing to evolve with each track and make it all sound fresh again.

The xx have a way of expressing an acute urgency and a depth of feeling in such an understated, light-hearted way it can be easy to miss the first time around. Coexist becomes more contagious and profound with every replay, emphasizing again and again The xx’s refined knowledge in the art of depressive pop.

Coexist is streaming now via NPR

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