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The xx - Coexist Album Cover

The xx - Coexist

Reviewed by
9.0
The xx-Coexist
Record Label: Young Turks
Release Date: September 11, 2012
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
It’s been three years since four South Londoners, with a penchant for the colour black, released their debut album, an album of eleven quiet, atmospheric indie songs which reflected their local burgeoning dubstep scene with clean dance beats placed underneath subdued male/female vocals and a generally irresistible air. Over the course of those three years these four South Londoners took over the indie music universe, won the 2010 Mercury Prize, earned critical acclaim from every publication and gained fans from the likes of Matt Groening, Rihanna and David Cameron. Now they’ve returned, one member less, but every bit as talented and interesting as before. The band that we’re dealing with is, of course, The xx, and the album in question today is their sophomore release, Coexist.

Do you know the old music journalist cliché ‘sophomore slump’? Well, The xx certainly don’t. Coexist is everything you could want from The xx. Each track is drenched in seamlessly melded guitar touches and electronic pulses, seductive vocals, and lyrics that simultaneously manage to be disconnected yet, occasionally, gut wrenchingly emotional. The production is, as one would expect with Jamie Smith’s recent work with the likes of Adele, Florence & The Machine and Gil Scott Heron, perfect; The xx’s trademark quietness sounds absolutely massive and each beat sounds as crisp and exhilarating as the last. Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim’s vocals entwine beautifully throughout the release with Croft’s vocals having undergone quite an improvement, and Sim’s voice being just as subdued and controlled as ever.

Coexist is a bit of a departure for the band with it’s heavier focus on a sort of club-like sound. Of course, this is a club after 4am filled with people drowning their sorrows because they’ve just been dumped again, but let it be known that this album does leave behind a lot of it’s indie sensibilities. Tracks like the goosebump-inspiring “Missing” are quite heavy on the bass side of things, feature a lot of repetition and aside from the occasional distorted guitar are basically dance music for the chronically miserable. That’s not to say Coexist shall isolate the many fans taken in by their debut. “Chained” and “Sunset” are bona fide The xx anthems; “Chained” is the closest thing to a proper chorus that The xx have ever come and it’s combination of a repetitive beat, incessant ticking and suffocating lyrics (Did I hold you too tight? Did I not let enough light in?) make for an irresistibly claustrophobic track which is a clear highlight of the release. “Sunset” features some of the record’s most effective lyrics (I always thought it was sad/ The way we act like strangers) and is the embodiment of what makes The xx as great as they are. The band manage to combine this ridiculously cold, disconnected sound with quite desperate sounding lyrics, and they do it almost perfectly.

Missteps, though few, do occur on the album. “Try” is a little non descript and its beat is a little like something that would be heard on some type of gangster rap album, and is actually a little annoying at points. “Reunion” isn’t bad, per se, but is somewhat out of place with its steel drums being a bit random on an album as downbeat as Coexist. These low points though, do little to dent the release as a whole, with it being incredibly easy to just sit down and listen to the album through in one go without want to skip anything. Overall, The xx have created an album that is just as interesting, attractive and sexy as it could possibly be. A sure contender for album of the year, let the storm begin again.

Recommended If You LikePurity Ring; James Blake; Lykke Li; sexual tension


Additional InformationTrack Listing
1. Angels
2. Chained
3. Fiction
4. Try
5. Reunion
6. Sunset
7. Missing
8. Tides
9. Unfold
10. Swept Away
11. Our Song

Band Members
Romy Madley Croft
Oliver Sim
Jamie Smith

9/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 46
03:00 PM on 09/17/12
#2
Jeff_Ryan
easy come and easy go, whatever
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Their self-titled will be remembered as a classic, guaranteed. This is still really great. I think "Fiction" and "Sunset" are my favorite tracks.

I agree that the steel drums kind of feel out of place but that's one of the reasons that I'd loveeeee a Jamie XX solo album. Steel drums are one of my favorite instruments and I still listen to Far Nearer at least a few times a week. I'd love more of that.
03:10 PM on 09/17/12
#3
Jake Jenkins
https://twitter.com/jakej654
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disagree pretty hard with some of this but its well written
03:13 PM on 09/17/12
#4
campinginalaska
artist i guess
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awful
03:13 PM on 09/17/12
#5
smowashere
I am Groot.
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"Sunset" is definitely my favorite. I happened to think "Try" and "Reunion" were two of the stronger tracks actually. Love "Angels," "Chained," and "Our Song." I don't think it's as catchy as xx but still a phenomenal album!
03:21 PM on 09/17/12
#6
Archael
listens to good music
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I've heard many good things about this band.

hmmm, people on this site doesn't like this... yeah, it probs rules.
03:28 PM on 09/17/12
#7
Kelly Doherty
@_kellydoherty for the lolz
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Really? I understand how one may not like it, but to call it awful? What made it so bad for you?
03:34 PM on 09/17/12
#8
campinginalaska
artist i guess
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i just dont like this new wave of bands like the xx that have come out recently, its like theyre taking indie rock and trying to make it palatable for radio play. i dunno, maybe im jaded, but nothing on this record sounds sincere to me. sorry for being a dick, i need to get 15 posts so i can write a review and this came up first on reviews, so i just did it.
04:14 PM on 09/17/12
#9
Steeeve Perry
Pushin' th' little daisies
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Still haven't heard the whole album but it seems like it's even more low-tempo and sparse than the debut, which I love. Should pick it up, I think my gf will like the club-inspired aspect.
04:47 PM on 09/17/12
scooterf
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Very well-written review, but I disagree with quite a few parts. I actually think the lyrics miss quite a few times, but they're acceptable enough. Just felt like a step back from their debut. Surprised to see the knock on "Try" which I thought was a standout track largely because I think the beat really works great there. It's also the furthest thing from a "gangster rap beat" hah. Actually the middle section of Try-Reunion-Sunset I thought was just fantastic.

I am slightly disappointed that they stripped it down even further. I think it worked well, but I was hoping they would expand on their sound rather than strip even more out of it. I suppose that's my only signficant complaint about this album - it's xx part 2 for the most part - not a ton of growth. The vocals are probably the one exception to that - the vocals on Sunset for instance really outclass anything on their debut IMO.

Top 10 album for sure.
05:10 PM on 09/17/12
Ryan Gardner
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Love this record. Come winter it will be in constant rotation.

Great review, Kelly. Glad you took on this one!
05:11 PM on 09/17/12
luvsickcatalyst
wander eyes, ocean high.
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I want to love this album so much, but I think "Try", "Reunion", "Sunset", and "Our Song" are the only standouts. It might warm for me as long as I'm listening with a good pair of headphones.
06:14 PM on 09/17/12
SomedayTheFire
when I die there'll be no trumpets
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Good review.
06:55 PM on 09/17/12
Spenny
Hearts without chains.
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i just dont like this new wave of bands like the xx that have come out recently, its like theyre taking indie rock and trying to make it palatable for radio play. i dunno, maybe im jaded, but nothing on this record sounds sincere to me. sorry for being a dick, i need to get 15 posts so i can write a review and this came up first on reviews, so i just did it.
You've got to be kidding me...
06:59 PM on 09/17/12
campinginalaska
artist i guess
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nah, not really, i'm being totally honest.

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