Tone Deft

“I See You” by The XX

By Hanna Schindler
On January 26, 2017

Minimalist, indie-pop, London-based trio The XX released their third full-length album "I See You" on Jan. 13, featuring an expansion of their coined spatially empty, lofty and often breathless sound.

Caution: if you have asthma, this album, or even perhaps The XX, is not for you.

After the release of an unpredicted and wildly successful self-titled album debut in 2009, and an equally fruitful sophomore release in 2012, the band contributes to their sound with a maturation of their production, but seemingly stuck to their vocal roots, featuring a harmonized tonality that is, somehow, even more forcibly pensive and windy on "I See You."

This new sound, while in comparison to other indie-pop projects can still be considered minimal, creates something that may no longer be able to be performed live by the band.

A stripped down sound is said to have been initially a construct for live playability.

"I See You," however, includes several samples created by band member and solo artist Jamie XX, and then layered with a production of synthesized percussion, something many are speculating that will not be able to be worked out on stage.

Despite the lack of chemistry that I continue to hear between the vocalists on "I See You," this does seem to be the most musically engaging and instrumentally detailed album the trio has released.

Lyrically, "I See You" is also a nice change of pace for the band.

Not only touching on themes of love and relationships like previous albums, but also anxious tendencies and indecisiveness that play into a grander theme of nuances alluding to existentialism.

Several tracks feature samples from rhythm driven artists, most notably the Hall & Oats song "I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)," which is featured on the album’s first single, "On Hold."

These more rhythmically inclined samples seemingly work for the aesthetic of the group, but are often cut short with tracks like "Say Something Lovely" and "I Dare You" ending harshly and abruptly.

Decidedly, "I See You," is not a groundbreaking release from the indie-pop trio, The XX.

Although this album is a more balanced attempt at aligning style and substance and includes a denser musical performance, a lot was seemingly lost in the vocal tonality and composition of this record.

All enjoyment is not devoid in the listening of this album, but "I See You" sadly hit below the line of expectation.

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