Boomkat Product Review:
One of the stranger press campaigns in recent years has found this lot's high school being name-dropped in every single review of their work. Not one to buck a trend, here's my contribution to the art of paraphrasing a press release: the XX are a quartet who got together at London's Elliot School back in 2005, the very institution that gave rise to those other great hype-vessels, Burial, Four Tet and Hot Chip. Notably, The XX sound nothing like any of those acts - and nor for that matter do those acts really sound anything like each other - but it's a pattern that's conducive to you possibly thinking there might be something a bit special in the school milk round those parts. After an 'Intro' that makes them sound like a Make Mine Music band, 'VCR' and 'Crystalised' properly introduce this record's stripped, icy aesthetic. These tracks build up to XX's first real peak: 'Islands' condenses this young band's art very nicely, encapsulating the chic sparseness of their guitars vs. MPC aesthetic, bringing their sound in from the cold and fully embracing the power of pop. Part of the album's success as a flowing body of work comes from its dalliances with pace-breaking tracks like 'Fantasy', which hops on the current trend for heavy-duty sidechained compression antics and lays down a throb of soaring ambience that cuts the record in half, setting up the echoing guitars and flotation dynamics of 'Shelter' before the band's calling card 'Basic Space' (held off until track 8) rears its head and reminds you what this lot are capable of at the top of their form. It's a sleek and sultry piece of stealth-pop minimalism that thrives on the boy-girl duet dynamics of vocalists Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim. One of the year's more understated buzz-band debuts, XX comes with a hearty recommendation.