the xx’s 'i see you' is a beautifully honest account of love and loss
Friday the 13th didn't bring about bad luck, as suspicion suggested it should've. Instead, Romy Madley Croft, Jamie Smith, and Oliver Sim released I See You, their third studio album together as The xx, and we felt very lucky indeed. Having taken a break while Jamie got deep In Colour with his solo project, the childhood friends eventually reunited and brought the follow-up to 2012's Coexist to life. As already suggested in singles "Say Something Loving" and "On Hold," the record feels more optimistic than past work; but that's not to say that it's not an incredibly honest and moving body of music. It is.
"It's a celebration of our friendship, life, love and the highs and lows we went through over the last four years," the band told us this morning on Twitter. The name I See You apparently came to them as they drove around London one summer listening to Frank Ocean. And much like the 10-track record itself, it just felt right.
Album opener "Say Something Loving" — a New Year's Day treat in karaoke form — is an emotional anthem guaranteed to be a uniting force across festival fields this summer. The choral opening of "Lips" gives way to a love song documenting the intoxicating heady highs of a relationship. "I don't wanna know the way down," Romy sings. Far from aggressive, "A Violent Noise" is an honest account of becoming unhappy and lost in a series of destructive habits, something which Oliver has spoken out about in recent interviews. As he opens up with some deeply personal lyrics, Romy begins to respond before an abrupt ending. "Performance" is more familiar sounding — echo-laden guitars aplenty — and will surely please those fans unhappy that the trio is feeling happier these days. "Replica" brings their voices together to muse on the fact that, whether we like it or not, we're all slowly turning into our parents. Wonderful Romy continues to be "Brave For You," on a song about losing her father who was undoubtedly their biggest fan.
On to the next, and this has to be the only time we've want to be put "On Hold." Before Christmas the world fell for their very Alasdair McLellan, Alasdair McLellan-directed music video about young love in the sun and house parties, cheer practice, and Blondey McCoy. It might be a track about romantic confusion but it's bloody fun. Next up, it's "I Dare You" — already teased out on SNL back in November — before things come to a close with "Test Me," written by Romy for Oliver. "It's definitely one of those instances of writing to communicate with one another," he said during an interview with Zane Lowe on Beats1 last night. "I remember her playing me this for the first time, she had her back to me… I could feel her nerves. I felt blown away. I felt a little bit like I was being confronted but I definitely felt love. We had a hug and a talk after. It was a great moment and a vital moment."
It's bright, it's cathartic, and we suspect that Jamie's colorful influence has seeped into their collective sound. As we all often have to in navigating our adult lives, The xx has rediscovered the importance of platonic relationships and we're very pleased to hear it.
As promised on Twitter just this morning, "our next adventure brings us back out on the road to play the songs for you in person, we can't wait to see you." Same.
Text Frankie Dunn
Image via Twitter