Published Aug 14, 2012The new LP from London trio the XX, Coexist, is as sparse and sullen as the debut that gusted them into gloomy hearts young and old, winning the UK's prestigious Mercury Music Prize and a ton of wallowing imitators into the bargain. Nonetheless, in a recent interview with Exclaim!, singer Romy Madley Croft revealed that perceptions of the band as detached, furrowed-brow losers with a surly streak fly frustratingly wide of the mark.
"We haven't done ourselves any favours by not smiling in photos," Romy laughs, "but it's quite difficult to know what to do when someone sticks a camera in your face. It's like, with us all wearing black, it's got to the point where all I own is black, and I don't even think about it any more. I think we're actually quite happy, warm, chilled-out people, so on this album I'd like to portray that side of us: That we're not machines."
Blaming their perceived moody exteriors on a shyness borne of inexperience, the 21-year-old went on to address rumours that the band considered packing it in after the The XX promotion cycle ran its course: "When we came back to London, we were gonna be like, 'If music happens, and if it feels like it's coming naturally, then of course we'll go with it. But if we come back and it's not happening and it feels forced, then who knows if we'll make more music.'"
In the end, however, good sense won out.
"Luckily, when we came back, all that not writing for ages opened up and we got started instantly. It was an adventure: We went in and had some fun, explored different things."
Unlike the first time round, the outfit have now adapted as a live three-piece, Romy and Oliver Sim sharing the spotlight, while Jamie XX dashes between "pianos, steel pans, CDJs [and] MPCs" behind stacks of strange boxes and pods.
Now, having weathered a period of uncertainty following the departure of keyboardist Baria Qureshi, Romy ultimately offers optimism for the band's future.
"Where we've got to now is so much bigger than I ever thought," she concludes. "I don't know where else we go. So I'm open with it. I just hope we still make music, and we make five albums and we still feel inspired to."
Coexist reaches North America on September 11 through Young Turks. You can read our take on the band's recent Toronto concert here and check out their upcoming schedule here.