It feels like 20 years has gone by.
Really, it has only been four years since English indie pop band the xx — always lowercase, folks — released an album. After “Coexist” came out in 2012, there was muttered chattering that the band could be finished. Well, on Jan. 13, the xx returned and released their third album, “I See You” worldwide.
The xx stated that “I See You” was going to be “more outward-looking, open and expansive” than their previous two albums “Coexist” and “xx.” These prior albums saw the group manipulate silence and sound to create a soothing soundscape mixing minimalist pop with dreamy vocals.
Those first two albums are classics, and the band’s self-titled debut remains a personal all-time favorite for study sessions. “I See You” is aesthetically quite different compared to the band’s other work, yet the same intimacy is burned into each song. “I See You” is amplified, dramatic and, most importantly, fresh. Yet, still so chill.
“I See You” is aesthetically quite different compared to the band’s other work, yet the same intimacy is burned into each song. “I See You” is amplified, dramatic and, most importantly, fresh. Yet, still so chill.
“Dangerous,” the first song on the album, features a blast of fanfare before kicking into deep bass, light percussion and vocals. This ends up being one of the best songs on the album, along with fellow hip-hop kissed track “On Hold,” which came out as a single a couple months before “I See You” was released.
The band’s sound has evolved with each new release, and so have their lyrics. “I See You” seems to tell a story of dangerous infatuation that does not last. This story assists the music in pulling the songs together to form one piece of work.
“I See You” is quite a departure for the xx. The sound difference is like going from black and white to color. On the two previous albums, lone tones set against swaths of silence made each sound seem important. While the minimalism of the group’s prior work was fantastic, a broader sound with more action is an improvement.
However, this means “I See You” might not always be ideal for quiet study like other selections from the group’s catalogue.
This album is 10 songs and runs 39 minutes, which is relatively short. One can have too much of a good thing, and some pop albums can be a little long when trying to sit down and listen to one all the way through.
“I See You” feels like it was made to be listened to all the way through, instead of getting pulled apart and stuck into different playlists. This was made for the listener to sit down, start it up and chill out. The songs on this album fit together and flow into each other quite well, which is another difference from the xx’s prior work.
“I See You” is available for streaming on iTunes/Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon and Spotify. There is also a vinyl pressing available on the band’s website — if vinyl is your thing. Physical copies of the album have a mirror-like cover, playing on the title.