When it all boils down, The xx are all about sex. The Sexx. Sure, there’s ladles of desire, want, and desperation, but they’re a band that both physically and sonically relish closeness. With a scatter of sounds, they encapsulate moments in seconds; a sonic Polaroid. Solaroid. Crucially, their debut was released before the dawn of post-dubstep – James Blake was a twinkle in Dummy’s eyes – and while no act since 2009 has stolen from the sounds The xx made their own, it’s clear the landscape they return to now is different. Mothers own Burial albums, there’s not an election coming up, and somehow The xx are no longer alone on the back seat of a nightbus – they’re in such a different place, that it was always hard to imagine them coming up with an LP as complete and inimitable as their first. But they have.
From the opening strains of ‘Angels’, through to the bitterness of ‘Fiction’, and on to ‘Our Song’, Coexist is an album that manages to fundamentally squeeze the essence of any relationship out.
Sonically, you notice that the absence of guitarist Baria Qureshi is barely noticeable on this LP compared to the first, which obviously featured her throughout the recording process until she left after the album’s release. Hardly surprising, considering how little the acts live sound changed before and after her presence. In fact, Coexist could almost operate alongside xx as a double-album – something perfectly complimented by the almost identical packaging, presentation, and of course sound structures. This isn’t a LP drowned in dancefloor friendly beats, it’s not an album where The xx have needed to move the sound of 2009 anywhere, it’s just a perfect compliment. Two halves of the same coin.
Losing nothing in not being a radical leap forward, The xx have managed to craft what few really believed they could – an album every bit as special as their debut, retaining all of the charm, essentiality, and character. This is Ammnesiac to Kid A, for a whole new generation. And that, is something very special indeed.
Words: Liam Haynes
‘Coexist’ is out now on Young Turks.