Release date: 13 January 2017
Words by: Martina Di Gregorio
The xx have been making headlines the last couple of months by releasing singles from this album, announcing world tours and breaking records for the most dates at a London venue showing how the influence of The xx has not diminished since their last album and the silence that followed.
I See You really hits the right spot with indie guitar pop, R&B, stripped down music with electro-pop influence of Jamie xx that really gives that extra kick to the sound that we all used to love from The xx. There are heavy guitar or bass drops, but the music gets stripped down to the core by making the real protagonists of the albums the vocal chemistry between Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft, as well as adding that extra dance vibe that makes Jamie xx’s solo work a blessing for The xx as he found that magic sound to really give the band a sense of purpose.
The lyrics all revolve around all those dark emotions and heartbreak that people go through during their life, making this album a very powerful weapon for The xx to really make an impact in a world where poetic and powerful lyrics are very much outshone by catchy beats and a repetitive clichè choruses that make people feel safe.
The album kick-starts with ‘Dangerous’,which tricks the listener into thinking it might be a happy song as the melody starts with trumpets but slowly fades into darkness as Oliver and Romy haunting voices sing about an unsteady relationship that could break apart at any time but their refusal to let go, and their need to fight for something that maybe shouldn’t stay together. Other songs such as the ballad ‘Performance’ really showcase the hard work and thought the band has put into their sounds, with violins being used to give that sense of melancholy as well as absolute silence to really make a statement and show that sometimes less is more: there isn’t always a need for energetic beats to make a song great, sometimes just vocals are enough to show off talent.
Yet, although The xx discovered and played with many styles in this album, they seem to always focus on their rough vocals, like with ‘Test Me’, which has scattered vocal samples and cryptic, gloomy noises that make it the darkest song of the album.
Overall, I See You really is about The xx growing and working with their sounds, as the vocals sometimes get lost in a sea of electronic noises and beats that take away from their poetic lyrics, which were what really made this band stand up. Although they do tend to go for a minimalistic sound in certain songs, it seems that Jamie xx’s solo work has made a huge impact on their sound and it is not clear whether it was really necessary. It gave the band a sense of purpose and, something that was lacking in their previous work. It was unclear what they wanted their sound to be like, but this change seems to have taken away a bit of the magic that we all loved from The xx. Nonetheless, the album is still able to strike a chord and show off the huge talents of the two vocalists, and although this is not a five star album, it will still live in the hearts of many fans for years to come.