The XX broke into the charts 10 years ago with their self-titled debut album in 2009. Their music is very unique, with breathy, soft vocals from a female and male duo, Romy and Oliver, and similarly soft instrumentation. The vocals sound so intimate at times that it seems they were never made with the intention of anyone ever hearing them. The music is mostly made of repetitive and hypnotic guitar and bass work, with some electronic effects and beats added by a third band member, Jamie. With “I See You,” the electronics take center stage, and make it closer to a dance album than the dream pop of their earlier work.
The album announces itself with the sound of trumpets, and a lot more excitement than you might expect if you’ve heard their other work. It seems that Jamie XX learned a lot while creating his solo album “In Colour.” Some of the tracks here blend electronic dance music with gentle vocals like those from Romy and Oliver in a way unlike anything I’ve heard before. “Dangerous,” “Lips,” and especially “On Hold” really stand out in this sense, and drew me in immediately. The other tracks are slower and more intimate, with themes of love and insecurities. The vocals on “Say Something Loving” sound like two older and more mature ex-lovers reminiscing on the first time they fell in love. The whole album is full of passion, some more exiting, some more delicate.