Album Review: The XX’s “I See You”

Author: David Heinrich

The xx have once again blessed us with new music. The British musical trio of Jamie, Romy, and Oliver are back at it again with the widely-anticipated album I See You, a comprehensive refinement of their sound and an early Album of the Year front-runner.

After their self-titled first release and their sophomore effort, Jamie broke off and released one of the best electronic albums of the last few years under the name Jamie xx. In Colour was wildly popular and critically acclaimed as well, and garnered Jamie a Grammy nomination as well. I personally didn’t know if this meant that The xx were broken up, but last year I was relieved to see them back in the studio together. I See You was released earlier this year, and became just as popular initially as their previous records. It’s sure to be an indie staple of 2017, and rightfully so. The album received a “Best New Music” distinction from Pitchfork, and the wonderful song “Replica” was awarded “Best New Track” as well. “Replica” is perhaps the best showcase of the groups redefined sound, and I’d agree with Pitchfork that it is the most essential track on this album. The looping guitar background from Oliver is great, the toned-down production from Jamie is appropriate and perfectly sets the mood of the song, and Romy and Oliver’s vocals incite emotion left and right. It’s a testament to not repeating the mistakes made by the group’s parents in their personal lives, and steering away from the fear and practice of personal self-destruction. It’s bittersweet, somber, intimate, and haunting, and it fits in perfectly with the concept of the album. Every song seems to center around feelings of uncertainty and love. Some are brighter and more upbeat than others, but the theme is evident across the album.

The thing that this album does best is working with the talents of the three members of the group. Jamie’s production style shines on this album, and his solo work’s influence is very welcome into the group’s new sound. Tracks like “Dangerous” and “Lips” showcase Jamie’s genius of crafting a mix of synth and percussion to perfectly fit the tone of each song. The first single they released, “On Hold”, is the most radio-friendly song from the album. It features a familiar message about love lost by waiting, a perfectly dance-able beat, and a catchy Hall and Oates sample.

The xx are bringing I See You to Coachella, Primavera Sound, and many other festivals around the world this year, as well as club dates in Europe and North America. They’re currently poised to have the biggest 2017 in indie music, and if all goes well, I See You could be the album that elevates them to the status of indie royalty.

Overall Rating: 9/10

Essential Tracks: Replica, I Dare You, Lips, and On Hold