Well it turns out that I and, more importantly, the hype, was right. The xx are, in fact, fucking brilliant. And that’s official, because I said so. After hearing “Crystalised”, then seeing them live, and finally getting my sweaty palms on a copy of their debut album xx, I’ve questioned whether they can truly live up to the amount of praise they’ve been receiving throughout, but after all bases are covered I’m still convinced. They are amazing.

The album is just ridiculously assured in every area. Musically it retains the air of sparseness, spindly guitar parts winding themselves around the already intertwined vocals of Romy and Oliver whilst the sampled drums give certain songs the simple beats they require, and others the rhythm to spice them up. In the production department, the band’s own Jamie Smith has excelled, and has proved that new band’s don’t need the overbearing hand of some super-producer to produce their hype-albums. The silence, the echoes and every nuance of the album has been thought about and polished to perfection. Equally, there’s no element of the album that seems over-produced, allowing the band’s stated policy of making the record sound as similar as possible to their live performances to be completely true. Finally, the lyrics are perfect; simple, but never cheesy. The theme is almost exclusively love, or at least lust. With beautiful, tense, overlapping interplay between the two singers on “Crystalised”, or Romy’s beautiful lament of “Maybe I had said/Something that was wrong/Can I make it better/With the lights turned on?” and the pure joy of requited love in “VCR” there’s always a flourish or vocal hook to make you sit up and take notice.

As an album, it’s incredibly well put together too. We have quiet, gloomy tracks (“Night Time”), more groove-driven and oh-so-almost dancable tunes (“Islands”), and they roll into one another perfectly, without ever seeming too similar to the last. God, I could wax lyrical about this album for quite some time, but I urge you to buy a copy and just sit in a darkened room and listen, it’s just so perfect. I really can’t see anything topping this as my album of the year, although I do have the Mumford & Sons LP to listen to next, so it could be a close one…

The xx – Islands (YSI)
The xx – Heart Skipped A Beat (YSI)

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