#6 Album of 2017 - I See You - The xx
The xx know how to make records, and they arguably know how to open them even better. The xx's I See You is a masterpiece, and the first track 'Dangerous' sets the mood, pace, and atmosphere for the entire record. It kicks off with light drums and a synth, incorporating brass into the chorus and throughout the remainder of the track that lets you know you're in for a treat over the 10-song, 40 minute record. The xx is a 3-member group consisting of Jamie Smith (Jamie xx), Romy Madley Croft, and Oliver Sim, and formed in London in 2005. Their trademark dream-pop, featuring echoed guitars, glittering electronic sections, all combine with the pristine use of Madley and Sim's exceptional vocals and songwriting skills. On a song like 'Say Something Loving', the pair go back and forth, with Madley singing the theme of the track perfectly: "Here come my insecurities / I almost expect you to leave".
As the record progresses, the songs continue on their self-doubt in relationships, with a track like 'Performance' emphasizing how one can put such an effort into looking like everything is ok outwardly, when you're in fact in extreme pain on the inside, all over a hauntingly slow production infused with a high-pitched violin. She sings: "I'll put on a performance / I'll put on a show / It is a performance / I do it all so / You won't see me hurting." On 'Violent Noise', Oliver Sims details his past of drinking and his ability to not be able to discern while he was drinking (he is since sober) if he was doing it to celebrate, or to escape something.
On 'Replica', Oliver's songwriting hits a very personal place. He sings: "Is it in our nature to be stuck on repeat? .. Do I chase the night or does the night chase me?" This song is in direct correlation to Oliver's challenges with addiction, and having seen it in his parents growing up, and his inner dealings with how he has taken a step back to see how he's replicated this same problem. It's a dark, deeply personal song, but one that I think can help others in similar situations. This record is in a large part about dealing with internal vs external conflicts, and challenging how we act and how we learn from personal discoveries we make regarding ourselves. What a journey The xx has taken us on in their 4th album.
Where does this album rank in your end of the year list? Let me know your thoughts on the album in the comments/social media!