On January 13, The xx broke their five-year silence with the release of their third album, I See You. You might already be familiar with the record’s two singles: “On Hold,” which adheres to the band’s mix of minimalist instrumentation and indie-pop more than their other single, “Say Something Loving,” which is more experimental than their usual work.
The voices of Romy Madley Croft and Sim have hardly changed since their first two albums, The xx and Coexist. In these albums, the duo made a name for themselves with their unique music style. The two front vocalists’ voices meld together in a way that brings both female and male perspectives. I See You is no exception to the duality.
Similar to their other albums, Madley Croft and Sim sing in accord with one another. Their voices are similarly non-flashy and raw. Madley Croft and Sim’s feelings, however, juxtapose due to different thoughts on hurt, love and loss.
I See You features 10 songs, each one different from the next. “Dangerous” opens with trumpets, which new for The xx. The new brass sound in “Dangerous” is reminiscent of their single “You’ve Got the Love,” which featured Florence and the Machine.
“Brave for You” sounds empty, as Madley Croft sings with minimal instrumentation. Madley Croft’s voice sounds more stripped than ever in what sounds like The xx’s most honest album yet.
“Say Something Loving” begins with a spinoff from the late 1970s band Alessi Brothers that slips away and transitions into a soft, steady guitar line.
The album shifts from heavy, realistic issues of image, loss, and conflict with the single “On Hold.” This song is less bare and minimalistic than the others. “On Hold,” when compared to “Performance,” is upbeat and catchy. Although this song is still about a rocky romantic relationship, the electronic chorus elevates the mood of the piece.
“Test Me,” starts off with a simple piano melody. The production of this track is exposed and simple, as it features a few simple piano chords. It quietly wraps the album up—not with a bang, but with a whimper.