I haven’t had quite enough time to immerse myself in an album to review for this week, so I thought I might write a little bit about the lead single off of The xx’s upcoming album Coexist. I would also like to discuss how this lead single is shaping my expectations for the upcoming album, which is slated to come out in early September. Check out the video and my thoughts after the jump.
The thing that first struck me about “Angels” as interesting was the use of only Romy Madley Croft’s voice on the track. If there are two things that drew people to The xx’s self-titled debut, it would probably be the simple but tight production techniques and the fluidity between Croft’s voice and that of fellow bandmate Oliver Sim when they shared vocal duties. Exchanging verses on “VCR”, the call and response dynamic on “Crystalised”, and the controlled harmonizing as the beat builds on “Infinity” are some really impressive examples of vocals, and I’m certain brought a lot of fans The xx’s way. Failing to capitalize on the most endearing dynamic of The xx with their lead single is a mistake in my opinion.
The lack of both vocalists is not damning when talking about how good Coexist may or may not be though. What may be damning is reading that Coexist is supposed to be influenced more by club music, signalling a transition in sound from the more dreamy sound of their self-titled debut. I don’t have a problem with citing a change in approach or sound. What I have a problem with is setting up expectations for a new sound and then having your lead single sound like it would have fit right in on the last record. “Angels” could have slipped right in on The xx’s debut, and probably ended up a slightly below average track on that album. But, because of the expectations created by Jamie xx in interviews about a new sound, and the natural assumption that the sound would evolve quite a bit because of the relative inexperience of the members when their debut came out, “Angels” gives me serious pause in having anything more than moderate expectations for Coexist.
Suffice it to say, my expectations for Coexist are dampened by “Angels”. I don’t believe bands need to drastically evolve to remain fresh or relevant, but I do believe bands need to be self-aware about what they are putting out there. “Angels” represents at best a lateral move, and for that I am pretty disappointed. Here’s to hoping Coexist delivers more than the debut single.
Bonus #1: Here is a nice little dub remix of “Infinity” that I found on Youtube recently. This is probably my favorite track on their debut, and this prolonged remix keeps intact most of what made the song great, while adding that little bit of extra drug-induced paranoia that dubstep can lend.
Bonus #2: “VCR” was covered and remixed probably about a million times. Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats this Matthew Dear remix. I do love The xx’s first album, and am really pulling for them to nail their sophomore effort. My love is shown by my constantly checking out remixes.