Following two successful records, The XX returns with I See You. Opener Dangerous uses sharp, brassy synths, which give way to a ’90s electro-dance beat and soulful vocals from Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft – a mix that echoes fellow British artist James Blake. The dance influence continues on A Violent Noise, with synth stabs and guitar delay.
There is an attempt to infuse the album with orchestral sounds, as heard on Lips and Performance. Lots of interesting instruments can be heard, yet feel underused in almost every song, as the band relies on their tried-and-tested formula of clean guitars and vocal reverb.
While Replica is pleasant enough, the minimal beat and organ don’t amount to anything memorable. The predictable Brave For You could be a B-side from dream pop group Beach House – without the atmosphere or emotion.
Resorting to old ground means the album is full of undeveloped, underwhelming songs (I Dare You is the only exception). Ultimately, it shows a band struggling to break away from their contemporaries.