the xx – coexist

did i hold you too tight?
did i not let enough light in?

in one of many interesting conversations with the person who put me onto the xx, he told me that he really didn’t understand this, the second album by them. he didn’t like it enough to give it to me (conceptually, this is something else i will get to). needless to say, really, that i disagreed. or, in one of my more open-minded moods, thought why the hell not?

i mean, not every song is great or memorable, but neither were they on the eponymous first album. i think this was criticised for not being different and therefore as though the band was somehow treading water. it was one of the first times i was forced to think consciously, in recent times, about what people expect from music, and from musicians whom they somehow instantly fall in love with (or grow closer to over time) – feelings of loyalty; betrayal; expectation; entitlement.

i have thought about it from my own perspective a few times, when i’ve felt a little cold after waiting breathlessly for a new release by a beloved artist. i outgrew that though, and the reception to a band like this in the modern day caused me to question what the hell people want and feel they can somehow demand of a band. in my more cynical moments, i think the objection was to the less dance-friendly slower tempos. i’ve never been a dancer…

the case in point was the main single off this one, chained. i still find myself waiting for the moment in the song when the drum track doubles up. it’s little things like this that are completely worth hearing – and there are many such moments across the album. but my sense of what is said about it makes me conclude that because of some superficial appearance of similarity or lack of growth, there was nothing more beneath the surface to notice or appreciate.

i love how romy and oliver’s voices interact, which i think is more noticeable on this album. hers is a more ideal instrument with melodic warmth, not unlike a slightly less powerful tracey thorn; his more monotonous and distantly sinister. in fact, the first thought i had upon listening to xx when the person above lent that to me was everything but the girl for more than the obvious reasons. the xx feel closer.

there is another bizarre appearance of steel drums here (can’t remember where else they appeared, but i know i’ve heard them recently) on reunion which turns through a quiet number that relies heavily on those voices. then there’s the excellent moment the bass and then drums tune in on swept away. it starts as a song that seems like it will be forgettable, but if you let it arrive, you notice more of those moments of atmosphere that underpin music like this.

this is a more recent discovery; bandwagon moment; that has made me think more than most others – about things that are both within and without their control. i really like that.

i saw you again, it felt like we had never met
it’s like the sunset in your eyes, i never want it to rise


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