The xx wake from musical slumber with “I See You”

The xx performs at the Central Park Summerstage in 2010. The band has recently released a new album after an almost five year hiatus. (jamieleto/Flickr Creative Commons)

Jan. 13 saw not only the release of yet another song from DJ duo The Chainsmokers, but also the third album from the London-based band The xx. “I See You” is the band’s first album after an almost five year hiatus, and now they are back with new sounds and great tracks.

The xx is composed of three members: Romy Madley, Oliver Sim, and Jamie Smith, all of whom attended the same school when they were younger, which was, in fact, the time period when The xx was born. The group began performing together officially in 2005, but it wasn’t until four years later that their debut album “xx” was released in 2009. The album was met with critical acclaim, even going as far as to be charted at No. 9 on the Rolling Stone Best of the Year list for 2009. In September 2012, The xx released their sophomore album, “Coexist,” after teasing the album back in July with the single “Angels.”

2012 was the last time the music industry saw a full-fledged album from The xx. But, besides the 2013 release of the song “Together,” which was featured on Baz Luhrmann’s official soundtrack for the movie adaptation of “The Great Gatsby,” The xx’s activity in the music scene has been close to nothing, save for a few remixes of their songs from “Coexist” popping up from time to time. It seemed uncertain whether or not The xx would even return to the music scene.

During the band’s long hiatus, band member Jamie Smith, better known by stage name of Jamie xx, had worked on his own solo career, releasing several singles during the course of 2015. One notable single was “Loud Places,” featuring the vocals from fellow band member Madley. Jamie xx eventually went on to release the album and was rewarded for a 2016 Grammy nomination for Best Dance/Electronic Album.

Then the band rose from its musical ashes. On Nov. 10, 2016, The xx released their first single from the new album, “On Hold.” “On Hold” was generally met strikingly well among the music industry, the music video sporting 12 million views and counting. Two more singles later, The xx released the entirety of the album, titled “I See You,” on Jan. 13.

“I See You” features a different sound for The xx, but the change is very subtle. In their past albums, the band focused on chill electronica and soft vocals, but in their third addition, Jamie xx’s influence is apparent, thanks to the increase in production of the songs and the use of different instruments. The xx seem to be taking a creative approach to this album, but it is successfully and arguably a fantastic step up from the work they have put out in the past. There seems to be a maturity in the experimentation of their sound, and it just goes to show how far the band has come.

If you are an avid fan of the The xx, this album should be a breath of fresh air. “Xx” and “Coexist” were very similar in production, but “I See You” provides new sound without losing what makes The xx original. Hopefully, this release means that The xx has not moved into retirement and will continue to experiment with their sound for years to come.


Ryan Amato is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at ryan.amato@uconn.edu.