Review: ‘I See You’ by The xx
Five years after the release of their hit album, Coexist, The xx returns with their third studio album, I See You.
I See You is a more than fitting addition to The xx’s discography. It continues the band’s aesthetic of smooth rhythm perfectly paired with soft spoken lyricism.
The album starts out fairly average. songs like ‘Say Something Loving’ and ‘Lips’ are good, but the album clearly has a stronger second half.
It is not until the fourth track, ‘A Violent Noise’, that all the pieces seem to begin to fall into place, and they stay that way for the remainder of the album.
In the track ‘Performance’ band vocalist Romy Madley Croft Sings about confidence issues and self-acceptance. This is by far Croft’s strongest performance on the album, with it being one of the few songs that only features her vocals.
While she does a solid job on her solo songs, the chemistry of the two singers is the driving force of the band’s success. Their duet’s have consistently been the best tracks on their past albums, and I See You is the same (e.g. ‘On Hold’ and ‘Replica’).
But the vocals are not the only thing to attribute the band’s success to. Jamie Smith, the third member of the group, complements the singing with superb production.
‘Replica’ is another highlight of the album. It’s style is very similar to some of The xx’s earlier works. It works as a nice anchor for the album. Even though the band is trying some new things, they can still return to their roots.
‘On Hold’, which was released beforehand as a single, acts as the crescendo of the entire album. It’s party style beat and autotuned hook create a tonal shift for the album. This song seems like an experiment for The xx. It appears to have paid off, creating one of the strongest tracks on the album.
Perhaps the London-based band wishes to delve more into the upbeat style of music, and this is them testing the waters. If that is the case, this is a strong audition.
The album does not any outright bad songs. Of the ten tracks, only two or three are on the weak side, and even those do not damage the overall quality of the album.
Overall, I See You is a terrific album and a solid display of The xx’s range and musical potential beyond what has become accustomed from them.