The xx

Dave wants me to discipline my writing by penning a bunch of 100 word album reviews. Things I have learned thus far: 100 words is not very much space. Also, cutting blurbs down from 115 to 100 is more time consuming than one might think.

Effort #1: The xx – xx

xx initially seems cold and insubstantial, but its stark minimalism proves purposeful and effective – a shockingly assured debut. These South London youth combine ambient guitars and dubstep-influenced drums to create lush instrumentals. Intimately insular, Romy Croft and Oliver Sim sing with deceptive calm, belied by emotional depth. Shelter “mirrors images back” of devotion and regret, while Basic Space seduces and Infinity aches quiet desperation. Later, they transmute UK Funky hit Do You Mind? without losing its smoulder. The further they approach total stillness, the more entranced I am, pulled into a pulsing black hole of charisma and repetition. Trance-inducing.

Ironically, the morning after writing this, P4K posted an interview with them. Nice to know that there’s officially a bandwagon. After I’ve packed a few more boxes and carried stuff over to the new apartment, I’m going to tackle Florence & the Machine. And possibly Electrik Red. Although, I should probably review some stuff that I don’t quite like that much. Pithy dismissal is much easier than concise rapturous adoration (tho).

EDIT: Okay. Second time’s a charm, right?

Given how listless Little Boots’ Hands turned out to be, and how grating La Roux’s non-singles are, my genuine enjoyment and appreciation for the debut from the similarly-hyped Florence and the Machine caught me by surprise. It’s not a perfect record – a bit more sonic variety would be nice – but underneath the Kate Bush influence and hippiedom is a girl with a huge voice and an ear for a good melody.

Attempt #2:

Florence Welch made waves with “Kiss With a Fist”, a bluesy garage shuffle propelled by her powerhouse voice. While nothing on Lungs matches its intensity or grit, this is a rewarding, if uneven, record. The titular organs remain the focus, bellowing through a sea of harp and choirs that sometimes obscure its strengths. By Hurricane Drunk, monotonous arrangements overpower Florence’s songcraft. But when effective, production lends an ethereal quality to otherwise earthy lyrics: Rabbit Heart posits love as pagan sacrifice; Howl equates desire with lycanthropy; and My Boy Builds Coffins soars. An unexpected direction, but no less promising for it.

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