ALBUM REVIEW: THE XX - "I SEE YOU"
written by Ted Christodulidis
“I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know what this is, but it doesn’t feel wrong,” cries out Romy Madley Croft during 'Say Something Loving'. While most would consider this line as an attempt by Croft to tell a newfound love how she feels, the line, in my opinion, is the quintessence of The xx’s third studio album I See You. It’s something newfound, yet vaguely familiar; something that can’t quite be recognized but just seems natural.
In releasing their latest work, the London trio has taken a fresh approach to what has made them unique for so long. With Jamie XX coming fresh off of his come-from-behind 2015 album In Colour, his influence and incredible production (although evident on the past two albums) shines through on every piece, allowing for a harmonious tie that truly brings the album together in perfect consonance.
During a BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix by Jamie XX just a few years ago, there was mention of spending time in Texas creating new material with Croft and bandmate Oliver Sim. In releasing the video for 'On Hold,' the group confirmed that their time was spent in the miniscule art hub of Marfa, Texas, just one short hour from the Mexican border town of Chihuahua. There’s something about the arrangement of the instruments, the rhythms and the overall vibe of the influence that really brings out the influence of the southwest and is maintained throughout the album, but not so much that it feels like an old spaghetti western soundtrack - really just the right amount to just make it discernible.
"It’s something newfound, yet vaguely familiar; something that can’t quite be recognized but just seems natural."
All in all, this album is certainly something new and different from The xx. When first listening to the album, nothing besides 'Say Something Loving' and 'On Hold' stuck out to me (probably because those two rose through the charts quickly?). I also expected to just brush off the album as another album that will fade into their discography and never be listened to again. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Since the first time, a few songs (notably 'Dangerous,' 'Lips,' and 'I Dare You,' if you want the specifics) have truly set themselves apart.
Overall, this album is something fresh from the group. It’s familiar but new; a nice step in the right direction for a group who has released just three studio albums in the last eight years. I See You seems to stay true to the roots of The xx that most have come to know and love, while simultaneously allowing for the group's necessary artistic growth and evolution that is so important; really exposing each member’s true talents to the last bits. It will be interesting to see where the group will go from here.