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Review: ‘I See You’

Divya Jagadeesh, News/feature editor

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The xx’s debut album, “xx,” is number 74 on Rolling Stone’s “100 Best Debuts of All Time,” and their second release, “Coexist,” reached number one on Billboard Alternative Albums List. Both use sparse arrangements, simple chord progressions and tension that’s heightened with stark lyrics. But four years later, The xx are finally comfortable in the music industry, and they’re stating it boldly.

“I See You” is brimming with pulsing beats and exotic rhythms. The lyrics have evolved and carry more weight. It’s brighter than The xx’s previous work and shows the most change, but it’s good change: one that showcases the band’s development and talent for creating soulful music. They have strong bass lines that are meant for parties — a significant difference from before. The new music is hip-swaying and shows diversity, with the transition between singers connecting the differing tones seamlessly. The lyrics talk of love and uncertainty candidly, and the production is masterfully done. There’s a singular energy that’s absent from “xx” and “Coexist,” and it works.

The two stand-out songs are “Lips” and “Brave For You” because they both showcase an amalgam of old and new. “Lips” is yearning and dark. It’s a song that plays when you’re getting ready and at the afterparty. It’s energizing and mellow at the same time, and the tension isn’t resolved, which transitions into the next track. “Brave For You” is intimate and deeply emotional. It acts as a bridge for the entire album and makes you pause because everything seems to go in slow motion. The lyrics are reminiscent of hope and project an earnest, idyllic love. The gravity of the work seems to be centered here, with every other song circling around this integral piece.

Compared to The xx’s last two works, “I See You” is much more radio-friendly, which is sometimes off-putting for fans of unique bands such as this. The change can seem too sudden and misleading; it isn’t what you expect, and it can be disheartening. Even with all its merit, the album’s monumental change might just be too big a change to overlook.

Still, “I See You” makes The xx more accessible and vivid than before. They’ve proved themselves as complex and versatile musicians and deserve an A for their work. For the trio, being this striking is definitely paying off.

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