In the Post #82: The xx – Open Eyes

By on Wednesday, 4th January 2012 at 12:00 pm
 

Last week on Christmas Eve, 2010 Mercury Prize-winning band the the xx posted online a teaser from their upcoming second album. Despite the name ‘Open Eyes’, there’s nothing particularly ‘open’ about this demo. Being a demo, it should be expected that anything muddled sounding will be cleared up by the time the second album gets its final shine. There’s the sound of something being dropped at 1.29. Jamie Smith’s role as beatmaster is nonexistent, as is Oliver Sim’s bass. All you hear is Romy Madley-Croft’s voice and a few spare notes on a guitar, then some gentle chugging of chords.

After that dropping clunk (something pressed or turned on a synth?), there’s a layer of sound that I’m guessing is a wave of surf coming in, which I find particularly interesting. I mean, come on. With their dark clothes and lack of movement onstage, the xx could never have been mistaken for an easy breezy, California surf pop type band. The spare notes of the guitar feel more obviously romantic than previous xx material, more Santo and Johnny’s ‘Sleepwalk’ (blurry video from 1959 here) than ‘VCR’, which would be a very interesting development for our shy, black-clad minimalists, to say the least. Or maybe it’s not the sound of water at all, and it’s the muffled sound of a car rounding a nearby corner? That would make more sense for a band from London, but we can’t really be sure.

What we can be sure of: the band are evidently still clinging tightly to the dream pop mantle that first brought bloggers round. This is not a bad thing. In fact, as they’ve slowed things down, there seems to be a palpable sadness in Romy Madley-Croft’s voice and the soft, nearly angelic “oohhhs” that pepper the demo. The lyrics are strong: “it’s enough / it’s too much / when I lost faith / I found love” and “you can tell / something’s wrong / I’ve been here / but I’ve been gone”. Not a lot of words, but they pack an emotional punch and somehow, they’ve managed to squeeze even more feeling out of their already minimalistic approach. If this is what the demo sounds like, I want to hear the finished product. More, please.

8.5/10

The xx like to be mysterious so we’ve no clue when their second album will be released. But we’ll keep our eyes and ears open for you and will post when there is news.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7B9VnfaUV6g[/youtube]

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