It’s been a long time coming, five years in fact, but Oliver Sim, Romy Madley Croft and Jamie Smith are back to continue breaking hearts with I See You, The xx's third studio album released via XL Records’ imprint Young Turks. Although their serene electro sound is still prevalent, in comparison with xx (2009) and Coexist (2012), the 10 tracks feel imbued with a new sense of poise and sonic attack. As signified by record opener Dangerous, the trio's lyrics are as telling and direct as ever, “So I won’t shy away, should it all fall down you’ll have been my favourite mistake.” Their words detail their personal growth from past experiences, and the realisation that relationships romantic or platonic are complex entities, as further dissected by tracks such as Performance and On Hold.
On listening to I See You, it’s difficult to ignore the impact of Smith’s solo work In Colour (2015). The invigorated production seeps through on numerous tracks as layered chilled house rhythms and burgeoning instrumentals intersect with stripped down hip-hop beats, tightening the record at the seams. The album's lyrical content is equally as strong; lines from Say Something Loving, (“I went looking for it, could have been anyone’s kiss, throwing my arms at no one, when I gave up I found love”) and I Dare You, (“I’m in love with it, intoxicated, I’m enraptured, from the inside I feel that you want to"), could have been directly pulled from the diary entries or conscious thought cycles of Sim and Croft. Devoid of metaphor, it is this honesty which makes them instantly relatable and is a fundamental attribute to the accomplishment not only of this record but also to The xx as a band.
Distinctive, composed and meticulously crafted I See You is already a foreseeable contender for one of the top albums of the year. A record that will have you playing it on repeat, it's time to get infatuated with the trio all over again.
Words: Lois Browne