Album: The xx, Coexist (Young Turks/XL)

Simon Price
Saturday 08 September 2012 17:34 BST

If the xx’s second album lacks, through necessity, the surprise value of the first, then it doesn’t disappoint in any other way.

The press blurb has claimed that this is the album in which they draw upon club culture, but if they do, it’s in the most understated way, the subtle UK-garage beat beneath “Sunset” being one of the few clear instances. Its melodies sketched out with twostring intervals, using the guitar almost like a harp, the xx’s sound never succumbs to over-elaboration: even the kettle drums on “Reunion” aren’t allowed to overshadow the song or outstay their welcome.

If anything, rather than clubland, Coexist owes a debt to comedown/ chillout culture, but even that’s a stretch, given the turbulence of their emotional palette. In its unfailingly minimalist way, Coexist sees the Wandsworth trio breathing new life into the concept of the duet. Rather than saccharine declarations of mutual adoration, joint frontpersons Romy Madley Croft and Jamie Smith deliver inner monologues depicting the same situation from two different perspectives, Peep Show-like.

The world adored the xx’s Mercury Prize-winning debut album xx. Coexist is, if anything, an even finer piece of work.

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