Young Turks – 13th January
The swathe of review coverage on The xx’s third full-length alongside the release of its spearhead single, ‘On Hold’, together suggest a sharp swerve in direction for the London-based trio. With an alien sense of optimism and the glorious use of brazen horns, opening track ‘Dangerous’, does little to dispel this assumption.
However by the time the paranoid hook of track 3, ‘Lips’, descends, the dream-poppers revisit their trademark sense of gloom – retaining at least one foot in their lonely and anxious universe.
‘I See You’ is still, at its core, too minimal and melancholic to embrace a fully-fledged sonic revolution, but it’s Jamie Smith’s sprinkling of stardust production that angles the band towards new sprawling and danceable environments.
Penultimate banger ‘I Dare You’, for example, embodies this evolution perfectly. With its boppy house beat and emerging synths it threatens to explode into a floor-filler – but upon the precipice it recoils to the stripped back husky vocals and lonely guitar riff combination we are now so familiar with.
The albums sleeve crystallises the mission statement – 3 pioneering individuals, once submerged in a black and white world of anxiety, begin to melt their frosty sheath of asceticism with brighter techniques. Transition is the key word here, not revolution; this is the journey of The xx – the beginning of a departure from ice-cold dystopia, towards a rainbow-dyed utopia.