The self titled debut from The XX was the soundtrack to my 2009, capturing the feelings of youthful love, longing and loss with dream pop guitars that made those emotions seem like a personal nostalgic melancholia, rather than a current ongoing set of themes. Coexist didn’t have quite the same impact, minimising the sound to the point of nonexistence, but with ‘I See You’ I can see my reflection in the music once more. Or maybe it’s just the reflective cover doing that for me.
Guitars are out, with Jamie XX’s solo dance beat talents in their place to make an album with real dance-ability. The lyrics haven’t jumped up a beat to match, still settling on the same themes, the same mood, but my 2017 self isn’t all that much different to my 2009 self either. The same love, longing and loss is prevalent in life, you just wrap it up and surround it with a cloud of optimism. Sitting alone at 20 and sitting alone at 27 are different enough, trust me. And that’s when a different angle is brought to light, something which is often sung within I See You.
The use of samples also acts as an enhancement to the overall sound, providing hip hop sensibilities to create a collage of the new and the old, with the 80’s pop echoes of Daryl Hal & John Oates ‘I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)’ in ‘On Hold’, offering a direct sense of nostalgia to match the lyrics.
You’ll see it too.