Release Date: Oct 6, 2009
Record label: Young Turks
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Pop
Not since early Low has a band been this purposefully quiet. Not since Young Marble Giants has a band made music this mechanically sparse. And hardly ever has an indie-pop band taken significant stylistic cues from the futuristic zoom-bip of Swizz Beatz and Timbaland and the militaristic synth production of the Neptunes. Declarations like those above are pretty standard fare when it comes to the xx, and their exceptional debut album, XX, but they’re an increasingly rare case of a band who deserves all the hype.
XX: a combination of chromosomes, 20 in Roman numerals, a British WWII operation, a CSI episode? Think instead a young, stylish south-London quartet, alumni of the same high school as Hot Chip and Four Tet. The xx, though, are nothing similar to their fellow graduates—that is to say, sunny IDM and glitchy electro-pop are the last things from this group’s collective mind. xx, rather, is night music.Night music?—It’s an overblown term that can and has been applied to almost anything, be it Burial’s hollow beats and canned strings, Chromatics’ driving-though-an-empty-city-at-2am clicking keyboards and faded vocals, or even cheap club music heavy on bass and light on everything else.
The xx are four 20-year-olds from South London who make predominantly slow, furtive pop music, mostly about sex. They are also one of the stranger recipients of UK hype in recent memory. They have no calling-card song; members of the Pitchfork staff have ID'd no fewer than four songs ("Basic Space", "Crystalised", "Islands", "Infinity") as "the one." They are not fashion plates, nor likely to be.
London’s the xx belongs to the rare and dignified breed of artists who, on their debut, emerge fully formed with a unique sound and style all their own. The feat is even more impressive given that each of the xx’s four members are just 20 years old. Their debut album, xx, displays a level of confidence and group telepathy that typically befits a much older band.
Debuts as fully formed and confident as the xx's self-titled first album are rare, but then, there is very little that is typical about this band or their music. Their influences are wide-ranging -- traces of post-punk, dream pop, dubstep, indie pop, and R&B pop up at any given moment -- but are focused into songs that are as simple as they are unique and mysterious. These tracks are so sleek, they're practically sculptural, and they boast impeccably groomed arrangements.
Listening to the xx is like reliving your tweens. Every song is moody, dramatic and brimming with emotional narcissism - the perfect soundtrack for reading Twilight novels alone in your bedroom. Makes sense, considering all four band members are 20 years old. [rssbreak] But as overwrought as the lyrics are, the songs have an attractive, dreamy, atmospheric quality that helps the London band avoid embarrassing teen melancholy.
The XX, four young, sullen-faced youths dressed in black, have that alluring band-as-a-gang aura about them. They spent their youth at south-west London's Elliott School (fellow alumni: Four Tet, Burial and Hot Chip) obsessively tinkering with instruments in the music room before signing a deal and self-producing their album in their record company's back office. At first glance, you'd expect them to make basement rock'n'roll songs serrated with guitar feedback, but they're more interesting than that.
Many bands, on entering the studio, can't resist the opportunity to throw in the kitchen sink. So they smother their recordings with brass parts, keyboard stabs, mechanical gnomes and anything else to hand. Which makes the xx so refreshing. At 19, the London band understand the importance of space ….
Striving for mood is futile. If your intentions are in any way transparent, you’re going to fail. Contrive downbeat miserablism in your music and it’ll come off as studied, inauthentic, indulgent. Aim for the stars with the word ‘epic’ in the back of your mind and you’ve made the last Maccabees album.
Let’s face it, leaks suck. Whether or not you’re someone that fashions in this illegal form of listening to music or not, leaks create a craving, a longing, and a desire to seek music way before its release date. Sometimes, most can cover it up and say it’s for the better, while others combat it with some kind of free stream or digital release.
Is it raining where you are too? Is there one too many toothbrushes sitting forlornly by your bathroom sink, bristling with minty sad memories? Are you going to throw it away, or use it as a boot-scrubber, a once fine, now masochistic flagellant with which to feebly scrape away what once was and now, suddenly, isn't? Don't bother. You'll never get the taste of him/her out of your head that way. Best to pour yourself a pint of bitterness and let the lonely, lovely languor of London dreampop trio the XX lull you into blissful unconsciousness.
DEAD BY SUNRISE“Out of Ashes”(Warner Brothers) Chester Bennington, 33, has a highly commercial gift: He’s still directly in touch with the pain, insecurity and turmoil of adolescence, and he expresses them without any fear of clichés. “Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I cry/ Sometimes I feel like I wanna die,” he wails in “Crawl Back In” from “Out of Ashes,” the first album by his band Dead by Sunrise. Mr.