Review | Dreaming of Angels

The xx's self-titled debut a couple of years ago was, in a word, exciting. Their sound explored new levels of sparsity and the vocals were almost lethargic in tone, but it was exciting. It was the cutting edge of mellow, employing a dark, high style to create a modern classic in cool melancholy. When it turned out Jamie xx was some kind of production genius, as evidenced by his hot-as-shit remixes of Gil-Scott Heron and Adele, they suddenly became part of today's upper tier. Forthcoming sea changers like The Weeknd took note of their night music and incorporated it into their own work. All this, and they hadn't even put out a sophomore album.

To promote the lead-up to their next album and show off a bit of the creative process, the xx did a smart thing in creating a Tumblr (or "soundboard"). The xx, whether they mean to or not, has a great brand and mythology. There's a specific look and atmosphere to what they do. It was sealed with that fantastic music video for "Islands". The Tumblr was curated with somber polaroids, the dark rainbows of oil in water, various images of static — all of it in service of building the atmosphere and mood of the album before we even heard a note. It was a herald of things to come.

It's also risky. Anticipation stacked high, because you can't just let people in like that and then deliver a lackluster album. The singles hinted at something scaled back and somehow even sparser, and now that COEXIST is making it's way 'round the net, the full scope of the retreat is apparent. This is not only an album that utilizes the power of silence more than its predecessor, this is an album that puts urgency in the attic.

Read More