Timid and shy the trio might be, but The xx’s self-titled debut made the loudest of arrivals when critics were left with their jaws gaping back in 2009.
Three years on and the the trio’s aesthetics might not have changed, their sound only marginally altered, but most importantly everything that made their debut so revered hasn’t changed either – not in the slightest.
Romy Madley-Croft and Oliver Sim are still singing with the utmost tenderness, just as Jamie Smith details the sparse melancholic intricacies that make up the sonic textures of The xx’s ambience.
The evolution of the trio though has altered just enough for you to admire their growth and not complain about the band playing it safe. If anything, Coexist sounds even more sparse than their debut, even if you thought that couldn’t be possible.
Club beats filter though on ‘Reunion’ and ‘Sunset’ and while they might sound relatively amicable through your laptop speakers, it’s best heard in the flesh where it pulsates through your body.
Sim sings with far more passion and variation on Coexist, see ‘Missing’ as he yearns: “my heart is beating in a different way/you’ve been gone such a long time/I don’t feel the same.” The genius and delicacy of The xx is exemplified through this track where Jamie XX’s beats sound like the irregular heartbeat that Sim is singing about.
Lyrically, the album seeps with sentimentality. Right from the outset, Madley-Croft goes weak at the knees on ‘Angels’ as she sings: “being in love with you as I am.” Just as the rest of the album is clustered with songs of love and lust.
By the end it might get a little too gooey for some, as ‘Our Song’ closes on the most romantic of notes.
While it’s far too soon to compare Coexist with xx, the two albums both share the same enduring qualities, which should hold the band’s second record in good stead.
The growth the trio have achieved might not be enough for some, but the most essential thing has stayed the same, The xx are still in a league of their own.
– Corey Tonkin