When the infectious grooves of indie rock collide with the sweetness of pop, you know you're in for a treat. A good example of that crossroads is The xx's new record I See You. The band's third record is filled with sweet textures, dark melodies, and some laidback atmosphere to give you a tasty excursion into their world.
There's a lot of different sounds on I See You. Perhaps it's best to start from the end, where things reach their rawest and most simplistic form. 'Test Me' is a very atmospheric track, very modest in its structure and purpose. Horns blare longingly into an empty ocean, vocalist Romy Madley Croft crooning very retrospectively, begging, "Test me, see if I stay / How could I walk the other way?" 'Test Me' is perhaps the rawest moment on the record, but it's not the only place you'll find such a pure sound on the record. The dramatic sounds of 'Performance' is similarly bare, Croft's vocals ringing over a moody bassline and orchestras. The song slowly builds, surely but subtly, the orchestra growing to provide for a powerful, personal track to reach deeper within its listener.
I See You is not entirely about darkness and rawness. There are plenty of "fuller" tracks that fill in some missing blanks you may be looking for. The album opens up on a more driven note with 'Dangerous,' the groovy bassline accentuating the punchy brass and funky beat, while Croft and Oliver Sim sing a moody duet together. There's a mysterious vibe hidden in the core of the track, looking through the cracks of the groovy instrumental. 'Say Something Lovely' is similarly punchy, though this track feels like it lacks some sort of event that could make it a bit better.
'Say Something Lovely' does have a poppier vibe that ushers in another side of the record's sound. Songs like the lead single 'Hold On' have a much more lovely and poppier vibe. The warm synths of the track's intro back the somber pretext of Sim's prechorus, which chants: "Now you've found a new star to orbit / It could be love." The CHVRCHES-esque song continues on with a building drive, the song's melodies really giving the song a bright and alternative mood. 'I Dare You' also has a more alternative vibe than you find elsewhere on the record, the sweet vocals from both vocalists giving the track a very genuine feel-good vibe.
I See You may lack eventfulness at times, but at it's core it is pretty genuine. The xx delivered sweet tones and a very laidback, personal look into their minds with these songs. That's the most you could ask of any artists - to lay out their minds on a platter like this. This record may not be the most grabbing, but it'll reel you in when you least expect it.
Favorite Tracks: Test Me, Dangerous, Performance
Least Favorite Track: Say Something Loving
Rating: 76 / 100
Buy or listen to I See You here: