London trio The xx released their second album Coexist this week, after a three-year wait since that self-titled debut which rocked the indie pop world in 2009. In that space of time, while the band’s Jamie Smith has made a name for himself as a solo club DJ across Europe and the States, the band haven’t changed at all. Coexist is essentially another easy-listening soundscape comprised of bubbly reverb guitar work; low-key, introspective lyrics and quiet bass lines – The xx have produced identical twins, only three years apart.
The fact that little evolution has taken place in between the two albums is by no means a bad thing, however: like their first album, it makes for 40 minutes of beautiful relaxation, and absolutely unrivalled revision music. Taking influence from albums such as 2009’s Fever Ray and post-rock instrumentalists such as Glasgow’s own Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky, Coexist is an album packed full of simple effort and grace, making up with tranquility what it lacks in innovation.
The eleven tracks on the album alternate between Jamie and Romy as the front-people, with a combined harmonic backing effort each time. Although this time there isn’t any surprise factor (the first album made such a universally positive impact because nothing that peaceful had ever been called pop before, and found success), this album proves for the second time that The xx are a band worth paying attention to.
The lovely aspect of this album is that it can be interpreted emotionally in many ways – the lyrics and sounds are ambiguous enough to come across as lamenting, haunting or opiate, or all at once. This versatility makes Coexist another triumph. If you do something well, why branch out?