Lo-Fi as a genre has always been hit or miss with me. Sometimes I love the music and it’s general melancholic tones, and other times I just want something that has a kick to it. When it comes to the band The xx, it’s even more hit and miss. I can never decide whether or not I love their music or utterly despise it. I think though, after listening to Coexist that I have managed to finally reach a conclusion.
Coexist is the band’s second studio album, following their self-titled début in 2009. Coexist continues the band’s lo-fi style, but at the same time introduces more layering. It’s another case where a band has grown up from their first album, and developed everything they’ve learnt, and used to to execute a well written follow up. A way to describe the music would be ethereal. At times, the music is as sparse as their first album, and at other times is more densely layered than anything they’ve written. These dense layers meld together perfectly at times to create almost ghostly echoing qualities, giving off the idea and sensation of isolation.
The big surprise is actually how the vocals have developed from the first album. Wording and pronunciation remains the same as ever, but there seems to be more in the notes this time round. The singing complimenting the sparse music much more effectively than on the first album. Both Romy and Oliver’s vocals compliment each other well, but also work effectively on an individual level. We’ve seen this used to great effect on the first album, such as with ‘Crystalize’, but now it seems to really be giving the band an edge.
When it comes to the album as a whole, it is a very good album. It is every bit an equal to their first, if not better. Each song fits in with the themes of loneliness and despair, and each run into each other to make a great sounding album. The album shows a band who is maturing, who understand their skills, and what makes them an effective band, and now on this second album, they’re attempting to further push that effectiveness forward by further developing it to the best it could be. We can even see this down to the fact that the album artwork is almost the same as the previous. This is an older version of the first album, with every ironed out perfectly. Perhaps this isn’t even the best The xx could be, perhaps when it comes to their third album, they’ll have even more to offer. Right now though, whatever they have going for them is working perfectly. Right now, I can now say that I’m convinced about The xx, and that Coexist is one of the best albums of this year.
- ★★★★☆ 4/5
- Swept Away