|The xx||I See You|
The xx — I See You (13 January 2017)♠ Jakési tvůrčí území ve srovnání s postupy, které jsou již zastoupeny v jejich předchozích albech. Konkrétně Jamieho beaty a rytmy jsou více rozvinuté, už to nejsou pouze jakési substráty, skladové položky. Jejich pozitivní vliv je zde patrný. Oliver používá rafinované vokály, které jsou cenné a nadále působí jako ta nejsilnější kotva s každým dalším albem v jejich katalogu. Za znatelně nejsilněji působící zisk je odpovědná Romy. Slyším zde mnohem větší hlasový rozsah. Přítomnost Laurie Anderson (viola) a třech houslí v obsazení + promyšlenému programmingu (David Wrench a Jamie Smith) citlivě dotvářejí skvěle napsané skladby. Možná by mu prospělo trochu více adrenalinu, otevřeného koňaku a tvrdosti, ale to už bych chtěl příliš. Rozmanitost v začátcích písní je také plusovým bodem. Lips začíná trojhlasy, A Violent Noise vybrnkávanou melodií, Performance opět hlasy a vyprávějícím vokálem Romy Madley Croft, vše probíhá na vysoké intimní úrovni. Nicméně závěr není zcela přesvědčivý (Test Me). Lidé na západě jsou varováni, aby si nekupovali vinyl kvůli pokrytí mikrooděrkami, jinak je album široce doporučováno. Dokonce i pro jízdu v autě. A soulful indie electronic outfit led by the respectively deadpan and sultry vocals of Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft.
√ I See You, the third album by the xx, attempts to incorporate everyone’s talents into a new version of their sound, one true to their roots but richer and more varied.
♠ I See You is marked by a tonal shift to something close to pure, crisp pop structure, adorned by unusual crescendos that echo a dextrous DJ inching their dancer toward climax without ever quite lifting the house lights. Its lyric sheet moves from the danger and hopelessness of love to its deliciousness and rapture; a move into a more outward looking proposition.
√ I See You is recognizably still The xx but is now powered by the voluble ambition of its three perfect counterweights to one another starting to not just realize but harness their full potential. You might even want to think of the decisive move from Joy Divi¬sion to New Order here, too.
√ When they take their plum festival slots in 2017, armed with the ten most robust songs of their career, The xx should prick the skin and touch gently the shoulder of an audience reaching to the back of the field.
Location: Wandsworth, London.
Album release: 13 January 2017 (UK)
Recording date: March, 2014 & August, 2016
Record Label: Young Turks
01 Dangerous 4:10
02 Say Something Loving 3:58
03 Lips 3:20
04 A Violent Noise 3:47
05 Performance 4:06
06 Replica 4:08
07 Brave for You 4:13
08 On Hold 3:44
09 I Dare You 3:53
10 Test Me 3:55
√ Romy Madley Croft / Oliver Sim / Jamie Smith 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10
√ Sara Allen / Romy Madley Croft / Oliver Sim / Jamie Smith 8
√ Sara Allen Composer
√ Laurie Anderson Viola
√ Eos Counsell Violin
√ Romy Madley Croft Additional Production, Art Direction, Composer, Design, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
√ Charlotte Eksteen Cello
√ Paul Frith Orchestration
√ Peter Gregson Cello
√ Oli Langford Violin
√ Phil Lee Art Direction, Design
√ Rodaidh McDonald Engineer, Producer
√ Emma Owens Viola
√ Caius Pawson A&R
√ Marta Salogni Engineer
√ Oliver Sim Bass, Composer, Photography, Vocals
√ John Smart Violin
√ Jamie Smith Composer, Drums, Engineer, Keyboards, Mixing, Piano, Producer, Programming, String Arrangements, Synthesizer, Violin, Vocals
√ James Underwood Violin
√ David Wrench Mixing, Programming
By Andy Baber | first published: 11 Jan 2017 | Score: ****½
√ No matter how you frame it, January is widely regarded as a bit of a bummer. Whether it’s because of the Christmas comedown, the horribly cold weather or the lack of funds in the bank account, the first month of the year has a reputation for being just the worst. So what better time for The xx ~ who are renowned for their melancholic, downbeat soundscapes ~ to release their comeback album, I See You, after a five~year absence?
√ On the face of it, the London trio’s return certainly seems like it’s been perfectly scheduled. Ever since their self~titled debut album propelled them into the spotlight by claiming the 2009 Mercury Prize, The xx have been pigeonholed as being dark and moody due to their distinctive skeletal sound and wardrobe of endless black garments, with their equally minimalist 2012 follow~up, Coexist, doing little to shake off those labels.
√ In reality, The xx have never been quite as depressing as some have made them out to be, with this view largely the result of their difficult relationship with fame. Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith were reluctant to embrace centre stage in the early days, but as the years have passed they have gradually become more comfortable in their own skin and this newfound confidence is there for all to see on their third LP.
√ Unsurprisingly, there is a clear influence from Smith’s 2015 solo project In Colour (released under his performance name of Jamie xx), but I See You also sees his bandmates up their game significantly. From the very first euphoric burst of synthetic horns on opener Dangerous, it is almost impossible to miss the added conviction that embodies the record throughout its compact 40~minute runtime.
√ Perhaps even more impressive, though, is the sense of playfulness ~ something which is aptly demonstrated by I See You’s title and colourful album artwork. Lead single On Hold provided an early glimpse of this. It signalled what we could expect from the band’s latest incarnation, balancing the hushed tones and crisp guitar work they are often celebrated for with a tweaked sample of Hall and Oates’ I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do).
√ The sample, in particular, was a complete curveball that transformed what could have been another typically stripped back offering from the trio into something close to a club classic. This is by no means a one~off on I See You, either, with Say Something Loving another example of The xx embracing a more technicolor approach thanks to its luscious, heartwarming synths and Smith’s ingenious use of Do You Feel It? by the Alessi Brothers.
√ Elsewhere, the more direct I Dare You utilises a straightforward clapped beat and the combined vocal harmonies of Madley Croft and Sims to marvelous effect as they sing about infatuation (“I’ve been a romantic for so long/ all I’ve ever had are love songs”), while both Replica and Lips make use of far more tropical rhythms. In fact, the latter is further evidence of the impact Smith’s vibrant solo record has had on I See You.
√ Even the band have acknowledged the prominent role In Colour played in the creation of their latest release. Yet for all the talk of Smith’s Mercury Prize~nominated album, I See You is undoubtedly a team effort. This is underlined by one of the album’s standout tracks, Performance, which is a fragile and beautifully intricate examination of the crippling self~doubt that has previously dogged The xx.
√ “You’ll see me hurting/ when my heart breaks/ I’ll put on a performance/ I’ll put on a brave face,” sings Madley Croft with her mesmerising and tender vocals. She is equally compelling on Brave For You, where she addresses her parents’ deaths, before Test Me concludes the LP with an eerie ode to the band’s own past troubles over a sparse piano melody ~ a poignant reminder of how sometimes less is more when it comes to The xx.
√ Nobody recognises this point more than the band themselves, which is why I See You is such an overwhelming success. “It’s basically us understanding each other better,” says Smith, and he is right. The xx have taken in all the experiences and lessons they have learned since their breakthrough and come up with their most adventurous and quietly uplifting release to date. It’s so good, it may even banish those January blues. √ http://www.musicomh.com/
by Mark Richardson, JANUARY 12 2017 / Score: 8.4
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares; Score: ****
√ In music and love, routine can be deadly. The exquisite stillness of the xx’s music was so distinctive and influential that, by the time of Coexist, it felt dangerously close to confining them instead of defining them. Given the half decade between that album and I See You, change wasn’t just necessary, it was inevitable. Jamie xx’s solo work signaled that something different was on the way, and in retrospect, Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim’s cameos on In Colour feel like previews for these songs about being musically and romantically bold. I See You unleashes the xx’s passion with swifter tempos, fuller arrangements, and a newfound heat in Sim and Croft’s vocals on songs like “On Hold,” which also showcases Jamie xx’s audacious production skills as he turns a snippet of Hall & Oates’ “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” into an irresistibly jittery hook. The band’s commitment to taking chances reaps rewards elsewhere: “Dangerous” kicks off I See You with a brass fanfare that’s about as far as the xx can get from the plaintive seduction of their early work. Indeed, the album’s happiest songs are among the best, whether Sim and Croft are falling in love all over again over contrail guitars on “Say Something Loving” or letting a relentless beat give their flirtation momentum on “I Dare You.” When the xx pare back, they do it with purpose, and still find subtle ways to push themselves. In another act’ hands, the propulsive self~doubt of “A Violent Noise” would be a club banger, but they opt for simmering tension instead of drops and peaks. Croft shows off her seldom~heard upper register on “Lips” and “Performance,” one of several moments on I See You where the band’s self~awareness borders on meta. Sometimes, this becomes too literal and repetitive; as enjoyable as the sultry swagger of “Replica” and heartfelt balladry of “Brave for You” are, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the xx are retracing their steps. Nitpicking aside, the risks they take on this album pay off: I See You is some of their most captivating music since their debut. ROMY MADLEY CROFT
• Guitarist and vocalist most famous for her work with the acclaimed British indie band The xx. Her band's debut album xx received the prestigious Mercury Prize in 2010.
• She was a student at Elliott School in Putney, England when she met the future members of The xx.
• The xx’s sophomore album, Coexist, topped the charts in several countries, including Belgium, New Zealand and Switzerland.
• Her mother was an art teacher and her father worked at a library.
• She has performed alongside producer Jamie xx and bassist Oliver Sim as a member of The xx.
√ xx (2009)
√ Coexist (2012)
√ I See You (2017)
Birth name: James Thomas Smith
Born: 28 October 1988
Origin: London, England
Instruments: Sampler drums steel drums turntable personal computer percussion MPC
|The xx||I See You|
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