The ecleptic british trio is finally back on the scenes, after more than three years. Following the release of the singles “On Hold” and “Say Something Loving”, their new album, I See You, is one of the first and most hyped releases of 2017.
Their debut album (xx, 2009) was a groundbreaking success, that revolutionized the music scene of the end of the decade; their dreamy synths, soft vocals and gloomy atmosphere set the standards for many indie rock bands yet to come. Some tracks, as “VCR” or “Intro”, became real milestones of the genre, winning both critics and listeners’ hearts.
The second release from the London based group (Coexist, 2012) didn’t succeed in meeting the expectations. The album itself was good, with some gems like “Sunset” reminding us how beautiful their music can be, but it wasn’t in no way as bold and audacious as its predecessor. The sound and the mood was the same of xx, and the feeling was that they settled for an easily saleable album.
With I See You, The xx dared again. They tried to create something new, starting from their origins and blending their solo experiences in, and they totally succeeded.
The most obvious influence on the album is an internal one: Jamie xx’s mark is everywhere in I See You, and this is great. Jamie, who achieved global solo success with In Colour, has transferred a lot of his style and sound in the new xx project, and his magic touch has really made the difference.
The melancholic mood of the first two albums alternate with some totally new and powerful sounds.
Tracks like “Lips” and “On Hold” mark a change from the past, introducing Jamie’s groovy rhythms and samples. The group’s distinctive sound is still recognizable, but the feeling is that they are emancipating from their past, trying to explore new paths, while staying true to themselves.
What we can criticize of I See You, is that the innovation seems incomplete. Tracks as “Performance” suggest that The xx are somehow still bound to their past.
I See You looks like a transition between a glorious past and a possibly even better future, and this work-in-progress status partially compromises the success of the album. The road is still long, but the path to follow seems clear: expect great things from The xx in the future.