Coexist, the eagerly anticipated second album by London indie pop band, The XX, is a hollow echo chamber of fragile guitar, rumbling bass and controlled percussion.
Jamie Smith’s production is subtle and escapist. Experimental ebbs and flows and pregnant pauses create an expansive space for Romy Madley-Croft and Oliver Sim’s sprawling poetry.
“Missing” begins with an aching heartbeat and Sim’s soft serenade, “Will you miss me?”, while Croft’s soulful ululations shanghai your heart. A gap yawns, radio silence, and you stop breathing.
Tough-minded critics challenge the many harmonic similarities between Co-exist and their self-titled debut album as suggestive of a lack of development and musical progression. Purists, on the other end of the spectrum, recognise the familiar minimal as refinement as opposed to re-creation.
I would argue, however, that Smith has expanded his scope. The steel drums of “Reunion” and the violins in “Tides”, the deep drum rhythms of “Chained” and the synth moan of “Try” are all elegant examples that stand testament to his brilliance.
This is no B-side album. There is urgency in the low and heavy percussion of “Sunset” and “Swept Away”, a gnawing house underbelly that was lacking in the metallic beats of “Basic Space” and “Night Time”.
Meanwhile, “Our Song” is a sweet reminder of platonic devotion. The XX generously allows us into the world of Croft and Sim’s shared love: “All I have, I will give to you/And at times when no one wants to/I will give you me/And we’ll be/Us.”
Co-exist was not conceived for the pumping speakers of nightclubs or prepubescent house parties.
Co-existis your lover, sensuous and hungry between sheets.