By: Derek Jung
As a music reviewer, I realize there are albums that are objectively good and objectively bad. When I come across an album that falls into the former category but is also one that I don't enjoy listening to, a myriad of conflicting feelings rise to the surface. I, as the author of this review, have to give my opinion about something, and that is very subjective. When I listen to The xx, I always appreciate their minimalist style. But at the same time, beyond "Intro" from their self-titled debut album, which has some of the most chilling guitar playing that I've heard in ages, their minimal sound is also one of the things that turns me off from them. Their vocals have always been mediocre, and their pull towards house music, a subgenre of electronic music that I have never enjoyed, only further pushes me away. All of that being said, one would expect this review to go one of two ways. Either I will be pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this album or I'll have my bias reinforced and continue to list The xx as one of the most overrated bands in the last decade. In reality, however, I've fallen somewhere in between. The battle between objective goodness and subjective tastes is in full force here.
As much as people harp on The xx being minimalist visionaries, the most promising song on this album, and shockingly the first single, is "Hold On". It's probably the most upbeat song on the album despite its slow moving verses. The biggest standout for me on this song is the brilliant Hall and Oates sample in the chorus breakdown that makes me bob my head every time I hear it. If more xx songs on the album were similarly styled, I would not complain at all. The problem is that the rest of the album is not like that. Slow-brooding, dreary angst abounds, with added atmospheric drums and the guitar noodling of Romy Madley Croft. Production on this album is especially fitting, as you can definitely imagine a foggy haze surrounding the band when they recorded. While I wasn't a huge fan of Derek xx's debut solo album "In Colour" that won critical acclaim in 2015, I will say that it's the direction that The xx should move in as a band. I'm certainly glad that some elements from that album have made their way into I See You. Otherwise, they're better off covering the Brambles Theme from Donkey Kong Country 2.
Who are we?
Derek Jung and Joseph Kathmann -- Just two ordinary guys that love talking about music. You can read more about us here.