Wednesday, 7 October 2009
The xx, xx (2009)
Took a while to grow on me, this album, but it's there now. And the conclusion I have come to is that xx is an album about an intense relationship between two really really shy characters. And that's great: there's not enough art about the being-in-the-world of the shy, although many people (most people perhaps) are shy most of the time. So, I love the attention-to-detail, emotionally, speaking, in the stumbly vocals, the not-quite in harmony angles of the male and female vocalists, the jittery, twangy, muffled-echoey Joy-Division instrumental tone, the inevitably-not-as-cool-as-the-Velvet-Underground Velvet Undergroundisms. I also love the way the perspective of the songs pendulums between intense attachment and an edged insistence on emotional distance: as if they don't have the in the bone self-confidence to assert the former, and fall back on the latter almost from habit. There's something cowering about these songs, in an endearing rather than a despicable sense. The only flaw, it seems to me, is the track 'Infinity', which might as well just be a cover version of Chris Isaak's 'Wicked Game' for all the good it does the song: a cheesy wrong note in an otherwise tentatively intimate suite.
Also, the name of the band (and album): see, in the light of this reading of the text I like to believe that the reference is to something vital, yet tiny and hidden; something shared in love, and hence chromosomes.