Monday, 2 January 2012

The XX - Open Eyes (demo)

With the boundaries that The xx’s debut album set, being acclaimed one of the best albums of 2009 and it’s overwhelmingly positive reviews, it’s no wonder that they’ve shied away from the spotlight for the past year or so. Their disappearance off the musical radar left many an awestruck fan tossing two sides of the coin: had they already reached their peak and would another album taint the crystallised perfection of the first, or was that just the tip of the iceberg? Now they seem to have crept out the shadows again leaving behind the demo of “Open Eyes” before slinking back to record their new album which opens with a soft melancholy, humming resounding with tenderness and longing. At first, Romy Madley Croft’s crooning seems hesitant and self-conscious, as does the simple bass riff rising and dropping again as quick as it started like a hopeful heartbeat only echoed in the lyrics seeming to offer futile reassurance: “everything will be alright.”

Without the synths and beats that made up the bulk of the first album, this shows The xx stripped down, naked and at their most vulnerable, but still still retaining their underlying notion of sincerity that they do best. It only gets better with every listen, so convincing that once you’ve stopped listening you realise you’re so wrapped up in the tangible aching sense of longing that it it embodies, trying to remember why you feel this way until you realise that it’s just your empathy that you have with the “loss of faith” that ‘Open Eyes’ revolves around. Fortunately, this only instills faith in the fact that The xx really do have the midas touch and can push themselves in a very different direction whilst maintaining their recognisable sound and hopefully return from their absence to more well-deserved glory. 

By Bella Roach

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