The xx’s new album, I See You, manages to bring the minimal production that their known for and also ones that are more filled with more samples, synths and movement. The style of production from Jamie XX solo works it’s way more into this album with the samples and rhythms. From first hear, especially of the first singles, You may think the album is going in a very new direction. Don’t be deceived. The production is more open and maybe give more uplifting feel compared to other album.
Yet somehow the lyrics and mood still seem to fit right in with what you would expect from The xx.
The opening track, Dangerous, starts off loud and upbeat with some blaring trumpets. It’s a tale of being of reckless, taking a chance with someone who is “dangerous” even if it ends in tears. It’s followed by Say Something Loving which is my favorite single released from the album. It’s sort of a sentimental love song. It opens with a sample Of “Do You feel it” by Alessi singing “Before it slips away” before the chorus comes in “Say something loving…” For me, It captures that initial feeling of falling in love, the moment before the words “I love you” are said.
Another favorite track of mine is Lips. A seductive song which feels purely about desire. It also opens with beautiful orchestral sample that goes “Just your love, Just your shadow” which the chorus is built around, Romy & Oliver sing ” I just want it all…” The overall beat has a low key Caribbean feel to it due to the instrumentation.
A Violent Noise and Performance are two of the more emotional tracks downtempo tracks. A Violent Noise is mostly sung by Oliver and Peformance by Romy. A violent noise is possibly about trying to overcome something and struggling (In a interview, He has mentioned the track reflects his feeling of partying/drinking too much and dealing with growing older.) The distortion and loundness of the guitars/synths really help bring out the emotion of the track. Performance just feels like a classic song from them. Romy sings “I’ll put on a performance. i’ll put on a show. It is a performance. I do it all so You won’t see me hurting, When my heart breaks…” The production is very minimal and it’s clearly about hiding your true feelings.
Replica’s lyrics ponders on whether they will become replicas of maybe their parents, maybe themselves, past selves… It takes on that theme of rather their doomed to make the same mistakes. It has a moving beat and melancholy feel. They sing “They all say I will become I become replica, Your mistakes were only chemical, Do I chase the night or does the night chase me?”
Brave For You is a positive track and tribute to Romy’s parents who are deceased. She sings “And when I’m scared, I imagine you’re there telling me to be brave”
On Hold is sort of nostalgic melancholy dance track reflecting on a love that’s slipped away. It samples “I can’t go for that” by Hall and Oates.
I Dare You is another one of my favorites. It feels similar to “Say Something Loving”, with an optimistic feeling towards to love. Oliver sings “I’m in love with it. Intoxicated
I’m in rapture From the inside I can feel that you want to…”
The final track is Test Me is a downtempo emotional track. They sing
“Just take it out me. It’s easier than saying what you mean. Test me, see if break” It seems to be reflection on bad communication and the challenges and test that come in relationships. According to interviews, It’s a reflection of a period when the band member had become distant and had some tension. It’s start over very minimal and crescendos into sort of electronic instrumental break before fading away.