EMOTIONAL OVERLOAD: "Coexist" by The xx

This entire album makes me FEEL things, which I’m not sure I’m OK with.
Publish date:
September 5, 2012

You guys asked for it, Jane Pratt wanted it, and now everyone’s getting what they wished for! Music on xoJane! And I’m here to deliver. I love beauty and style, and I live and breathe music, so I’m happy to write about both. You can’t make me choose!

I unapologetically love pop music, but I think my best-kept secret is that I actually do like other genres outside of pop. Though you’d never know it, seeing as I always have God-ney Spears or some other diva blasting from my iPod, I do love alt rock, old-school rap, even folk music (let’s keep that last one a secret though, it would totally ruin my image). I’ll pretty much give anything a listen at least once.

But WHAT, I thought to myself, do you readers want to hear about? Have you guys heard of “The xx”? Let’s start with them.

The xx is a British indie-pop trio that released their self-titled debut in 2009, which was met with overwhelming critical acclaim. By the end of the year, they made basically every “Best Of” list there was and had more eyes on them than ever before. Many artists took notice and became just as hooked as the fans. Mike Posner sampled them on his “One Foot Out The Door” mixtape, and both Drake and Rihanna used beats by The xx on both of their latest albums (Drake on “Take Care” which actually featured Rihanna, and Rih herself on “Drunk on Love).

In a world where everyone’s sound is trying to be bigger, louder and more complex, The xx sound is hushed, almost shockingly so. They’ve been described as “ambient and expansive, with lingering, negative space.” It’s funny because their album reviews are complex and wordy when they’ve given critics, in one sense, a very uncomplicated album. Their work is hard to describe because there’s so little to go on. Made up mostly of a guitar, a synth, a bass and a drum machine, I would argue that their most powerful instrument is silence.

BOOM, profound.

But quiet does not equal boring, trust me on this. Would I suggest something that was BORING? Good lord.

Their new album, titled "Coexist," is set to be released September 11th. I was lucky enough to preview the entire thing. And oh, my god.

Romy Madley Croft of The xx perfectly explained the progression from their first album to their second when she told NME, “It just sort of carries it on. It's developed, but it doesn't seem like completely a world away. I hope people will just enjoy it as a development of where we were before.”

As Romy said, the album continues with the quietness that the first album had. The one big difference between the two albums? The lyrics. On their first album, the lyrics were good, but the lyrical content on Coexist is BEYOND.

I don’t know about you, but I actually listen to the lyrics of my music. I realize that not everyone feels the same -- my best friend from college would frequently say, “Oh, I never listen to the lyrics, I don’t even know what the song is about! I just like the way the music sounds.” I never understood that, but I guess people are allowed to have their own opinions, or so I am told. These lyrics are worth hearing.

Coexist immediately draws you in with the first track “Angels,” which was also the first single off of the album. It is so beautiful that I literally held my breath through the entire song the first time I heard it. Check it out here, but don’t hold your breath because I’d rather you finish reading this article than pass out.

This entire album makes me FEEL things, which I’m not sure I’m OK with. I like to keep my emotions where no one can see them. This isn’t an album that I’d typically play on repeat in the middle of the summer, but it is so addicting that I just can’t help myself. Ever since I got my greedy little hands on it, I’ve traded in my sunny summer jams for this introspective, emotional album. I was cleaning my kitchen (“cleaning”) today and kept being pummeled over the head by what I was hearing, all misty-eyed as I was scrubbing my sink.

This is an album that has universal appeal because it’s so different than what’s out there right now, and thank goodness, but even more so because it hits on such an honest level. The xx put it all on the table: infatuation, vulnerability and heartbreak. The payoff is huge. The xx’s sophomore effort is, in my opinion, one of the best records of the year and will undoubtedly be a mainstay on the “Best Of” lists, come December. Coexist drops September 11th, but you can preview “Angels” and “Sunsets” right now to keep you satisfied until then.

So what are you guys listening to right now? What do you think of The xx and their new material? What should I be listening to?

I’m tweeting about music I love and pop stars I hate @Tynanbuck