RT: “Angels,” “Chained,” “Unfold.”
RiYL: Purity Ring, Bon Iver, James Blake, Jamie XX
The British indie pop known as The xx has some interesting ways of making music. . Their songs are ambient, relying on a combination of vocals and subtle instrumentals. It’s a bizarre style, and the best part is the fact that they make it work. While the album isn’t something to listen to while, say, clubbing or driving down the street, it’s a fantastic mood album, one to listen while thinking to one’s self.
The xx came into existence with their first album in 2009, which they creatively named The xx. Critics ate it up like candy, citing the moody lyrics and instrumentals, with the Metacritic average giving it an aggregate score of “Universal Praise.” It’s no wonder: the songs are lyrical and moody–perfect music for, say, a pretentious teen movie or a fantastic psychological romance (possibly both.)
Coexist took the original album’s sound and, to very loosely quote the band, added a slight house influence. It shows; there is more electronica in this album than the previous one, but it’s not so overbearing as to overtake the album. Rather it is integrated beautifully, with the music still taking a slow and contemplative pace. The songs keep a somber mood to them, and the silence that occasionally permeates the songs make the instrumental portions stand out even more than they would have previously–a smart move on the band’s part. This makes every sound have its own impact, the album making itself out to be more than just an album. Coexist feels less like an album of songs and more like an art project.
And that same strength is also part of why it’s not quite as enjoyable as, say Beat Antique. It’s less about making music and more about making a statement. While it is still contemplative, and certainly more interesting than, say, any dubstep song ever, it’s not as fun as a typical house song because the album takes itself very seriously. There is energy, and there is life, but it’s slow-paced to the point where it feels like it’s stopping every few moments to contemplate its navel.
Overall, I still like this album, but not as music. I like it as a statement and as a projection of the writers’ and artists’ emotions, from the feeling of isolation in “Missing” to the adoration in “Angels.” The emotional power and weight the album is truly enormous, and it makes for some great “sit down and think about this” music.