Thursday, August 20th, 2009
Heart Skipped A Beat
An introduction to The xx
Owen RichardsI don’t always trust myself, particularly when it comes to things like first impressions to music. Some things I think I hate grow to become dear favourites, while other things that may impress at first blush turn out to have the shortest shelf lives. But sometimes the things that instantly sound amazing actually are, and while it may still be too soon to call it, I’m prepared to put The xx in that rarefied group.
I only got a copy of their debut album xx earlier this week, but it has already received more plays than some records I’ve had for months – it simply demands to be heard and re-heard. Trying to find a place from which to begin describing it is difficult – imagine smooth trip-hop crossed with goth-tinged dreampop, seamlessly fused at the genetic level. Imagine Massive Attack busking in an abandoned tube station, armed with just guitars, bass and drum machine and drenched in reverb. It’s cold and sensual. Joyous and sullen. Dark and luminous. Detached and seductive. Confident and trepidatious. It’s dead simple and richly complex, and it’s crafted by four nineteen-year olds from the south of London. I want to use all manner of superlatives and hyperbole, but that sort of enthusiasm is sort of at odds with xx‘s utterly laid back beauty. So I’ll just say that while there’s plenty of time for its spell to be broken, for the moment it certainly looks like this is one of the best new bands/debuts/albums I’m likely to hear this year. Oh dear, that was a bit hyperbolic, wasn’t it? Ah well.
xx is out now in the UK now but North Americans who still like the physical product must wait until October 20. Those who do the digital over here can get it now, however, as it became available on iTunes, eMusic and the like this week. They’re also touring North America later this year as support for Friendly Fires – the pairing of their austere understatedness and the headliners’ unabashed dance party should be an interesting mix. Very much looking forward to the December 2 date at the
Mod Club Phoenix.
Pitchfork reports that pre-orders of the US release of Manic Street Preachers’ Journal For Plague Lovers on September 15 via the band’s website will get a copy of the previously announced remix album, featuring contributions from the likes of Patrick Wolf and The Horrors, for free. Those of us who already have the album will presumably be given some other way to get it. Probably involving a further outlay of cash. Manic Street Preachers are at the Phoenix on October 4.
Clash talks to Noah & The Whale, who are set to release their new album The First Days Of Spring in the UK on August 31 and October 6 in North America. They also recently recorded a Black Cab Session.
To anyone wondering, Lucky Soul’s new album – still untitled – has had its release date pushed back from this Fall to January of next year. Until then, we will have to subsist on the first single. I can do that.
I Taught Myself How To Grow Old talks to Bobby Wratten, formerly of The Field Mice, about the experience of having Saint Etienne cover their “Let’s Kiss And Make Up” to much greater success than the original ever achieved.
Magnet plays over/under not with a single band’s oeuvre, as they normally do, but with the bands of the Britpop era.