It’s crazy to think that it has been 5 years since the last time The xx released an album yet it seems like only yesterday when we all fell madly in love with the London trio – comprised of Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith. Coexist – along with their debut – is a crucial album to own but new release, I See You, is even more essential to add to any music fan’s collection as it explores elements of growth, fear, loss and the inevitable feelings of love as the band experiments with newer soundscapes with a fresher perspective on life.
To say that I See You is the band’s coming of age record would probably be an understatement but there’s no denying the confidence emulating off of each track as our favorite band of introverts come out of their shells and dive deeper into topics that were once kept hushed. As an introvert myself, I found this record reassuring. Maybe this thing called life doesn’t have to be as scary as it feels and that anything is possible if we just keep pushing ourselves to be better than we were the day before. The whole concept of being seen has always sort of been a double-edged sword for me, but at the end of the day, we all need the comfort of knowing we are loved and cared for.
Opening track, “Dangerous,” has Jamie written all over it sonically as the band delves into some risky business in the relationship department while new fan favorite, “Say Something Loving,” is the ultimate love song for the modern age; as the thrill of human affection gets replaced with cheap thrills and one night stands, a safe, warm touch is often foreign to those who crave deep, meaningful relationships. “When I gave up, I found love,” sings Romy as I find myself in the same position myself, finding love with the most unexpected person that has oddly enough been staring me right in the face for so long.
Things start to heat up with the sensual “Lips,” while “A Violent Noise” explores the notion of recoiling away from the world while trying to train oneself to come out of hiding to experience all life has to offer. Fear is such an ugly monster sometimes. Vulnerability comes into play big time with “Performance” – a torn-in-two ballad eloquently sung by Romy of wanting to be seen while feeling out of place while doing so, leading the rest of the record into melancholy.
As we get older, we often catch ourselves doing things our parents have done. “Replica” is an ode to the mirror we often see while examining ourselves through familiar eyes despite how happy our childhoods may have been while the heart-wrenching “Brave For You” penned by Romy about the loss of her parents hits home as I’m reminded of my grandmother and how her death ten years ago left a hole in my family. “Though you’re not here, I can feel you there, I take you along.”
Once “On Hold” comes into play, listeners are transported right back to where they were when the song was released this past fall during a time of discontent and fear. There’s always that one person you think you have on hold – that no matter what happens in life, that person will always be yours. Unfortunately, things don’t always work out the way we imagined. We tend to see what we want to. The line of, “The stars and the charts and the cards make sense only when we want them to,” is reassuring in the sense that sometimes things not working out can be a blessing.
“I Dare You,” debuted during the band’s performance on Saturday Night Live back in November, dazzled us immediately and the recorded version is just as magical as the live one; a definite crowd-pleaser during their upcoming tour.
Closing out the album is the rousing “Test Me” – proof that real, unbreakable love is possible, something we all should strive for and practice in this life. If this record taught me anything, it’s that being seen has never felt so liberating.
I See You is available now here.