Review: I See You by the xx

I See You by the xxI See You, the third record from the xx, is an unusual creature, not so much because of what they’ve changed, but because of how much things stayed the same. Sure, when they previewed “On Hold” we all had the feeling that Jamie xx has very much bled over his mother band’s work. We all thought that it’s In Colour redux. And yes, there just seems to be a bit more to I See You: from the wider use of sampling to the brighter undertones enveloping the record, you get the impression the xx are no longer limited to “gloomy downtempo”, for lack of a better term. And yet, if you strip all that away, the songs are the same: mesmerizing at the right moments, plodding if you aren’t in the mood. The change of pace and mood is a nice thing, but I left with the feeling that it’s all window dressing. I’m not sure if I’m missing something in the equation. Is it me? Do I need to listen to it more? Were their previous records, with its minimal approach, just easier to understand and approach? (That’s a misnomer – I See You should be easier.) I like the risk (if you could call it that) taken, but I’m not sure if it’s working. [NB]3/5

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