February 20th, 2013 12:46pm
We Bide Our Time
I imagine I wasn’t alone in cycling out of The xx’s second album rather quickly – their music has a very specific utility, and if it doesn’t fit into your life and state of mind at the moment, it’s easy to shrug it off. The circumstances of my life haven’t changed that much in the past few months, but I was curious enough to revisit the album, and was surprised by how much more vibrant it seemed compared to when I first heard it. My earlier impression, based on hearing it about seven or eight times through, was that the music was missing the dramatic tension and subtle dynamic shifts that made their debut compelling, and that it just sounded like a couple of codependents doing nothing but whispering to each other in bed for hours on end.
Coexist does suffer a bit for being so consistently quiet and wispy, but it is dynamic, albeit in extremely subtle ways. The best way to think of it is that the songs represent an emotional landscape rendered with a monochromatic palette. There are no radical shifts, but each slight variation in hue or gesture signals a small change in feeling. This isn’t just musical minimalism, it’s emotional minimalism too – everything is brought down to some small, essential level where everything in the world is shut out except for the intimacy between two people represented by the vocalists.
Buy it from Amazon.