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Three years later, The xx are back with a new album, Coexist, and a new perspective. Where xx lent in close to whisper in your ear, Coexist gazes warmly in your eyes. Much has happened to lead to this point: most pertinently, they've grown up. Older and wiser, surer yet still so tender, The xx's Coexist finds itself on the other side of heartbreak, when the light returns.

After a break from touring for their 2009 debut album xx, the group's members began writing songs individually before recording the album during November 2011 to May 2012. Guitarist Romy Madley Croft and bassist Oliver Sim drew on personal experiences for their songwriting. For Coexist, The xx drew on the electronic dance music that occurred when they were away on tour in 2010. It was produced by group member Jamie xx, who had pursued electronic dance on other projects and developed as a DJ prior to the album.

Rather than expand on their debut album's sound, the group wanted to minimalize the songs they recorded for Coexist and muted certain elements in post-production. Croft explained their approach in an interview for Pitchfork Media, saying that"throughout pop music, you usually have to make the chorus really big, but we have a way of working where everything has to be played live. That's why there's not loads and loads of guitars or doubled vocals. That's really how we make minimal music we're making what we can play on stage. It sets limits, which is good."Jamie xx, who was mostly listening to dark Chicago house music at the time, wanted to keep his approach to production simple and used recording technology such as Logic, Space Echo, preamplifiers, and occasional Casiotones to produce an electronic, emotive sound.

The songs are also spatially arranged and experiment with tension, including listeners' expectations for a dance beat to develop and for a time signature to change. Elements such as vocal and guitar motifs fade to silence throughout the songs. Music critic Kitty Empire perceives"so little sound here and yet so much atmosphere, punctuated by the xx's little sonic signatures", commenting that"no pattern here hangs around for more than a couple of bars, and rarely in multiples of four."

Coexist deals with themes of heartbreak, loneliness, and intimacy. Bassist Oliver Sim and guitarist Romy Madley Croft share lead vocals, which occasionally overlap in call and response interplay and slow crescendos. Sim, who cites Sade as an influence, has coarse, assured vocals, while Croft sings in a shyer style. The lyrics mostly focus on a failing relationship and changes in a romance. Most of the songs have single-word titles that evoke long sentiments.


1. Angels

2. Chained

3. Fiction

4. Try

5. Reunion

6. Sunset

7. Missing

8. Tides

9. Unfold

10. Swept Away

11. Our Song

Label: Young

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