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The xx

Coexist

The xx
Two years since shooting into indie royalty, the XX find themselves exiting adolescence in a hectic flurry of public interest. You might expect the heady lifestyle to jump-start their serotonin levels, but after a pillow-soft debut, Coexist does what few might have predicted: tones things down. Not in an emotional sense, however. With typical elegance, the London, UK trio take the opportunity to address a few vital truths about being mopey, lovelorn youngsters here, namely that 1) getting dumped is a bitch and 2) sometimes getting over it isn't high on the list of priorities. This in mind, it's a record of sombre electronics and deep-house ruminations, and if their debut conveyed with light brushstrokes the ephemerality of the honeymoon period, then Coexist crosses the "everything's screwed" bridge in the moments shortly before the screwing stops. It's fair to say that these themes of keeping things fresh over time align neatly with the band's second-album difficulties: theirs is a blueprint that's permeated the UK's dance underground, not to mention artists like James Blake and the Weeknd, and certainly the scene has progressed since 2010. It shows on "Sunset" and "Tides," familiar soundscapes that see echoing drumbeats meandering into repetitive vocal and guitar mantras. But "Try" and "Reunion" prove that there's still joy to be wrung from the formula, albeit with a bewitching, synthetic abyss in place of conventional melody. Yet for all the speculation about a dance rebirth, it'd be unfair to call this Jamie's album. Singers Romy and Oliver have A-grade chemistry to spare and as a joint force they remain purveyors of an increasingly divisive skill: holding their breath for eternity, only to blow softly onto one another's earlobes. Packed with immersive, headphone- and heart-filling moments, Coexist is far from a bad effort. Gentle sophisticates that the XX are, however, it's hardly surprising that the cutting edge got a little too sharp. (Young Turks)
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