Exeter, Devon UK • Oct 4, 2023 • VOL XII
Exeter, Devon UK • Oct 4, 2023 • VOL XII
Home Music Liked That? Try This: The xx – I See You

Liked That? Try This: The xx – I See You

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Liked That? Try This is a fortnightly column: I pick a trending album and recommend three others based on their shared musical ideas, aesthetics or approaches.

This week’s album choice is The xx’s ‘I See You’, released on 13th January and perhaps the first major release event of 2017. Marking a shift toward the pulsing future garage rhythms and rave-era nostalgia last seen on member Jamie xx’s solo LP ‘In Colour’, it nevertheless retains the low-key vocals, skeletal guitar lines and cinematic melancholy of their previous two records. Lead single ‘On Hold’ is a propulsive piece of Hall & Oates-sampling synth pop, while opener ‘Dangerous’ grooves sinuously atop a pleasingly artificial brass section. Elsewhere, it’s business as usual, with tracks like ‘Say Something Loving’ and ‘Performance’ once again proving The xx’s mastery of their particular brand of unrequited longing. But where next from here?


“I liked the nocturnal mood and 80s influences”

Chromatics – Night Drive


 

Chromatics’ neon-drenched world is one of perpetual nighttime, sleazy dive bars and romance – or at least lust – as all-consuming entity (their most recent album? ‘Kill For Love’). From the cover art to the album titles (‘Tomorrow Is So Far Away’, ‘The Telephone Call’) to the elegantly distressed production, Night Drive exists in a perfectly realized 80s time capsule. The echoing guitars, steady drum machine pulse and breathy vocals of the title track and ‘Mask’ are straight out of the early xx playbook, while the house pianos and faster pace of ‘I Want Your Love’ recall I See You’s more exploratory moments. The album’s closer, mesmerizing 15-minute epic ‘Tick of the Clock’, is a stunning example of tension, release, and making the most of very few musical elements.


“I liked the fusion of electronic and acoustic instrumentation but wish it was more musically adventurous. Also, I enjoy staring out of windows wondering what might’ve been.”

Hood – Cold house


Has an album title ever been so bluntly evocative? Sadly overlooked during their early-2000s lifetime, Leeds-based post-rock introverts Hood reached their zenith on Cold House. Blending shimmering guitar lines and subdued vocals with chilly, programmed percussion, this is the winteriest of winter albums – but beneath the icy surface songs like ‘You Show No Emotion At All’ and ‘Branches Bare’ radiate a weak, if solitary, emotional warmth. If the xx’s loneliness is that of the nightclub bathroom at 2am, Cold House is the freezing walk through back alleys and side streets the next morning, shorn of romantic intrigue but with a new day ahead.


“I liked the intimate male-female vocal interplay, but want something more…organic”

Mount eerie – Lost wisdom


Though released under his Mount Eerie moniker, Lost Wisdom is at heart a collaboration between lo-fi veteran Phil Eleverum and Julie Doiron, of 90s indie cult heroes Eric’s Trip. The album’s sparse, hymnal folk songs are defined by the push and pull of their dual vocals, sometimes in harmony, sometimes at odds, but almost always tugging at the heartstrings. The aptly-named ‘Voice in Headphones’ is almost painfully intimate, while ‘You Swan, Go On’ might be the most perfect 1.5 minutes this side of the new millennium. Throughout, the sound is warm and inviting with a edge of darkness, a forest campfire on the verge of going out of control.

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