The xx – Coexist
Young Turks Records
By Ben Allen
Back in 2009 when the genre known as “chillwave” was popular for about six months, The xx released a stunning self-titled debut. This was rich, atmospheric music with subtle reverb-drenched guitars intertwined with understated vocals and electronic percussion.
Fast forward three years. Following the success of their debut, The xx needed only to ensure that their follow up wasn’t dreadful. Unfortunately, Coexist disappoints on a number of levels. Upon repeated listens, I found myself asking, “when did this great band become fucking Enya?”
Whereas the London band’s debut contained appropriate moments of minimalism, here we find tracks that have been stripped bare, often leaving only vocals along with one other instrument. Opener “Angels” creeps along slowly with just guitar and vocals, leaving you wondering when the song will actually start. Stripping away the layers just doesn’t seem to work as a production technique this time around.
Not all is lost though. Later in the record we find “Tides,” a groovy track with a bouncy bass line and excellent collaborative vocals. “Swept Away” is similar in that it feels both club-ready and melancholy simultaneously. It’s like dubstep for nerdy art students.
The songwriting that made their first record so essential is still here, but something is missing. In order to succeed, The xx will need to fill these giant gaping holes (that’s what she said…am I right?). – (4/10)[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nW5AF0m9Zw]