It’s been made clear that The xx’s third album I See You (Young Turks) is going to be huge, just ask Pitchfork who has been pushing it for months at this point. But, all too often, I’ve heard individuals talk about their distaste for the English trio. Whether it’s a simple “meh” or “they are too sentimental” or “too whiney,” it’s clear that the there isn’t as much love for The xx as many would lead you to believe. But too all you naysayers, I’m happy to say I disagree.
We all hate to be spoon fed “cool,” but that might be decidedly why The xx are worthwhile. They aren’t the brand of outsiders rocking Rebel Without a Cause hairdos and leather jackets. Rather, they are slightly over emotional Brits who have more incommon with The Cure and Hall & Oats, which is probably a good point to start discussing the album, I See You.
The sensual back and forths between not actual lovers Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim always provides high points on xx albums, but on “On Hold” – the first single from I See You – it’s a discussion of power over another lover. And that’s where the genius of Jamie xx comes in. He turns what would be a moody end-of-love song into a dancefloor hypnotizer by sampling Hall & Oates’ “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)”, another song about saying “no” to an overly powerful lover.
Jamie’s almost encyclopedic knowledge of music pushes The xx into a category of their own. It’s pop that’s both danceable and okay to tear up too. I See You finds the trio working both angles with what they do best.
Album opener “Dangerous” begins with a blast of horns before picking up with a highly danceable beat and a melodic hook shared by Slim and Romy’s voices. Meanwhile, tracks like “Performance” and “Brave for You” are classic, sparse xx tracks that are at their best when playing with silence.
Each song builds and then breaks, almost crumbling like watching another in a long line of explosive movie-type relationships come to an end. Album closer “Test Me” sums up the entire experience, “Just take it out on me / It’s easier than saying what you mean / Test me, see if I break / Tell me this time you’ve changed / I’ll take it out on you / It’s easier than talking it through / Test me, see if I stay / How could I walk the other way?” It’s an album that possesses enough earnest sincerity to find it’s way into your wounded heart.
The xx’s I See You reminds us it’s okay to cry on the dance floor, and that’s why it receives 33 out of 39 it’s-going-to-be-alright tears.