the xx – coexist

The XX - Coexist coverYeah it’s here and it leaked: “Coexist” by The xx. Let’s start off by stressing the fact that they really do deserve a place within the beat genre. Mainstream media might call them Indie Pop, others would classify them as rock, singer/songwriter or even folktronica. But as their first selftitled album already felt like it was something way more than one of those styles, their new release (scheduled for 10/11th of September) firmly places a footprint on crossover beat music.

 

Whereas sampled elements and dance-influenced compositions were already apparent in earlier songs, Jamie xx’s statement that “Coexist” would be inspired by the club music scene that the trio missed out on really hits the spot. The one-note running staccato basslines are firm, the 2-bar chord changes fluent and the drums provide a steady pulse throughout the album. Of course this wouldn’t be an xx release without the melancholic and heavy reverberated guitars and toned-down, almost drawling vocals.

 

As before the album is mixed down in such a way that the vocals are in the forefront, but would a lot of their strength without the rest of the music. The layer below that contains most of the melodics and the bassline, and beneath that are the drums. Such a choice of combination makes the release stand out from today’s bass- and drum-heavy styles, but their subtlety actually gives them extra strength.

 

Angels was put out to the public a while ago, a singer/songwriter ballad with an ambientesque background. While fans were riveted I actually don’t see this song as a proper representation of the album as a whole. Exposing us to that song first will actually prove to being a genius move, since the rest of the tracks will have a lot more impact. Chained has a strong running bassline over a half-time 2step/future garage beat. The sortof uptempo vibe continues on Fiction, which layers a basis of piano chords on an early 2000′s 4/4 kick-snare sequence. The group returns to their signature dragging melancholic sound on Try, where the guitar gets a bigger role and is accompanied by a gliding sinus-like synth.

 

And there comes Reunion. An almost rave-like sequence of steel drums leads the vocals to the breakdown, after which we are treated by a minimalistic 4/4 kickdrum and bass groove that will leave the majority of dance producers envious. Bit by bit the hats and snares follow, culminating the track into a small dancefloor frenzy. The housey vibe continues on Sunset, after which it’s time to cool down to the more bombastic Missing, in which the reverb is being pulled open even more and the vocals travel together with a sweet simple organ backdrop.

 

On Tides the group takes a more steady and basic approach with headnodding drums and an arp-like riff on the guitar. Unfold steps on the breaks, puts the kick in the background and lets the hi-hat define the rhythm, simultaneously putting more emphasis on the vocals and lyrics. Leaning towards the end of the album, it’s time to hit the floor once more with Swept Away. The contrast of the emotionally starting vocals and the techno groove that kicks in later gives the track extra character, and the nifty use of percussion to create an offbeat groove below a grid-placed piano creates an awesome swing.  Closing down is Our Song, another drumless ballad track, although the rhythm is exposed by the triggering of the pad-like guitar feedback sound which forms the backdrop.

 

I think The xx has gone where many artists have stumbled and failed: delivering a sophmore album that’s actually better than the debut. They have also crossed some genre-boundaries which may have some interesting results in the future. You can pre-order it here, Facebook here and Official website here. A couple of random clips are below since I don’t want to be hassled (again) by Youtube for uploading copyrighted material.