It starts with a fanfare, literally! And you know what, it’s deserved. The saluting horns of ‘Dangerous’, the upbeat opening track from The xx’s third album; ‘I See You’ welcome you almost regally into the journey you are about to embark on. The album still sounds like The xx, but it does feel like they have opened themselves up to a greater range of influences in order to move beyond where they were five years ago when they released ‘Coexist’.
Still present are the soft, cloud light soundscapes which float atop rumbling, bouncy beats, instantly recognisable as Jamie xx’s influence. Of course there’s plenty of Romy xx and Ollie xx harmonising vocals and plucking away at their guitar and bass respectively.
It’s the heightened tension and emotion built by the evolving strings of ‘Performance’, the short organ stabs that dance rhythmically around the hula sounding guitar underneath Romy’s vocals on ‘Brave For You’, and the sparse collection of instrumentation and sounds on album closer ‘Test Me’ that take you somewhere new. These are fun new places to be taken, so let yourself go with the flow.
We did feel they were flying a little too close to Kings of Leon, a la ‘Use Somebody’ on ‘I Dare You’ (you’ll know what we mean when the chorus hits), but all in all it’s a strongly compiled diary of experiences delivered in true The xx style.