xx: Album of the Decade

A Sleepy Masterpiece

If this album makes you want to turn the lights off and sleep, that’s because xx wants to woo you to sleep.

Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim, Baria Qureshi and Jamie Smith are tired and heartbroken with a guitar, a bass, a keyboard and a drum machine. They stay low-key, happiness is merely a flutter in the heart.

The album starts by building a story via vignettes of a couple, culminating in the song “Islands.”

With the hooky guitars of Croft, a simple tapping beat from Smith and a story of love found, the xx keep it simple for the heart to fall in love. Islands showcases the rock-solid rhythm which spans across the album.

There’s no overstatement, no embellishment, but those vocals.

Wait, give me a moment here.

Holy shit those vocals.

But just when you want to dance, the xx switch gears with “Heart Skipped A Beat.” The beat stutters, mimicking the painful experience of a conversation with an ex-I-never-had.

It’s been a while
And you’ve found someone better
But I’ve been waiting too long to give this up
The more I see, I understand
But sometimes, I still need you

Sometimes, I still need you.

Yeah, the duet between Croft and Sim sounds soft spoken.

But the sentences swing sledgehammers.

It’s like the two start a bedside conversation that quickly devolves to fighting and after every song, one wakes up and glares at the other. Cuts pulsate with words unspoken and things left unsaid.

xx quite honestly is my album of the 2000’s. A succinct offering of alternative rock wrapped up in electropop threads, this album is a contradiction in all it’s forms:

It’s minimalist but indulgent, it wants to cry but it will make you dance, it’s elegant but all about the socially awkward.

And most importantly, it’s soft, but it hurts.

Producer(s): Jamie Smith

Track Listing:

  1. “Intro”
  2. “VCR”
  3. “Crystalised”
  4. “Islands”
  5. “Heart Skipped a Beat:
  6. “Fantasy”
  7. “Shelter”
  8. “Basic Space”
  9. “Infinity”
  10. “Night Time”
  11. “Stars”



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About BenJamsToo

A young dude with an old soul from Portland, OR but currently teaching and writing in rural France. A lover of rock n roll since his mother first spun The Police’s “Roxanne,” he’s also dabbler in soul, funk, jazz, blues, electronic and hip-hop. Perhaps it’s easier to list what he doesn’t like; most gangster rap, country-western and modern metal disagrees with his stomach. Spends all day wondering what Ruban Nielson eats for breakfast, why Danger Mouse hasn't made a through and through GOOD record since St. Elsewhere, if Kamasi Washington is the Kanye West of jazz and just what the hell people hear in mumble rap. Between those things he writes for Atwood and his own blog, thefriedneckbones.net. Come here for the nice clean thoughts; go there for the ramblings of an insane man.