What are the XX co-existing with? Perhaps it is Romy Croft’s vocals juxtaposed with the minimalist instrumentation. At any rate, their album “Coexist”, which was released in September, tries to meld two things that, in my opinion just doesn’t fit. While Croft definitely has an interesting and unique voice – it reminds me of a poor man’s Jonsi – and Jamie Smith aka Jamir XX’s electronic heavy background tracks are a great experiment in sound and tonal quality, together they sound off. I think the problem is that Croft’s voice is high-pitched and so are the notes that are created by the band.
I had the chance to speak with Jamie XX a couple of weeks ago prior to their show in Vancouver. Jamir has a successful solo career as a DJ and he also produced both Coexist and The XX’ previous record. His influence is strong and abundant throughout the album and I actually quite enjoy the music and sounds he creates. And within XX, he stays fairly true to himself and his creations provides a solid backbone to band’s almost experimental approach.
There are certain circumstances where these two contrasting elements could form a lethal combo. But listening to Coexist, I didn’t get a feeling of inspiration or any sort of emotion. Not that every single piece of music has to be inspirational, but it should at least allow for some form of reaction. I didn’t feel really negative towards it either, just neutral. Both components are good by themselves and posses great musicianship, but after listening to the first couple of tracks all I got was a feeling of ‘meh’. But I know that others will feel different.