July 16, 2012

Song Review: The xx's "Angels"


To their advantage, minimalism has defined the success of indie R&B makers the xx, whose 2009 self-titled debut made a sizzling breakthrough with only a balance of quietly dubbed echoes and dark romance at their disposal. The sound is such a stark contrast to what has become expected from electronic music these days, in which ebbed layers and high intensity bleeding synths consume most of the market's share. The UK trio hasn't let that dissuade them however, and on "Angels" -- the first listen off their forthcoming sophomore effort Coexist, due out September 11th on Young Turks -- the xx again captivates listeners with a less-is-more-approach. With the band's producer Jamie xx having been in-demand elsewhere over the past year, working and re-working larger-scale tracks by everyone from the likes of the late Gil Scott-Heron, Drake, Radiohead and Rihanna, hearing something so silently detailed on the second go peaks interest in the newness that will follow. Every flickering of a guitar string alongside Romy Madley Croft's hollowed and cracked vocals strokes your inert senses as the inconsistent drops of a snare drum lift "Angels" toward the surface of your skin. It's those last few seconds of silence in the track after Croft whispers her last word that are the most immense -- A realization that the love song you thought was being sung only in your head has made its way out of your lips. It's the definition of a real emotion, and something the xx are learning to pull out of its listeners without resorting to a sensory overload to do so.

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