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Album Review
I See You

I See You
by The XX

Young Turks

Review Date
16th January 2017
Reviewed by
Paul Larsen

It’s easy to forget how young The xx are as a band. Though they’ve been around for a decade now and generally considered veterans of their genre, they formed initially as school friends and won the Mercury prize with their first full length release (XX) in just 2010. That record was iconic. The airy dream-pop driven by Croft and Sim’s vocal interplay over the modulating flow of Smith’s electronic production became a signature sound of the group. Their 2012 sophomore effort, Coexist, was largely a continuation of this - before the group turned to side projects that included Jamie XX’s much lauded album In Colour, which garnered a world tour as well as a Grammy nomination.

I See You is the third studio record from the group. and marks somewhat of a departure from the “traditional” xx sound. What is most obvious is Smith’s more prominent production offering further direction and urgency to songs such as first single ‘On Hold’, which features a very danceable drum beat and some signature sample work. Lively opener ‘Dangerous’ even kicks off with a brassy fanfare – literally heralding in the changes. For their part, Croft and Sim’s vocals remain as personal as ever with self-doubt and loss remaining as the lyrical cornerstones of the pair’s songwriting.

All told though, there’s a general feeling that not quite enough has been done to progress the band’s sound. While the ingredients may have been livened up, the recipe is very much the same and that’s disappointing. In isolation, I See You is a hugely enjoyable record and will no doubt sound magnificent in a live setting. But with the talent and experience now under the band’s belt – it might have been exceptional.


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