Sunday, December 27, 2009

The XX

Time for another band that's been tipped by many as tops for the year, The XX.

Lots of folks lump these Londonites with The Big Pink, but I think that does a disservice to both. There may be some similarities, but they are somewhat limited. Where The BP are pop songs under a sludge of effects, or harder edged codeine-fueled anthems, The XX are, in a word, "sparse." Yes they are dreamy and have spacey ethereal moments, but what they have really brought to the table is a discreet sense of emptiness. And while this sensibility is very "post-punk," coming from The XX, in 2009, there is also a sense of freshness. The three-piece leave well enough alone, and don't overstretch things, just to create a false sense of earnestness.

But as they live by the sword, they also die by the sword. At times, the emptiness leaves the listener a bit cold, and often, even after repeat listens, it's hard to remember hooks are moments that you want to bask in again. It's not forgettable, but it's not memorable either. At first, I couldn't understand why the record left me a bit colder than I thought it would, but then I saw them live. The problem live, which I think may also have to do with the record, is that there is very little behind the songs in terms of emotion, fear, anger, loss or destruction. Even with the bands they were inspired by (Portishead, Echo and the Bunnymen, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Mazzy Star) there was a front of stage sense of something. The XX have not found their thing yet, but hopefully, in time, they will.

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Blogger Cockfosters said...

11:28 PM  

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