With their debut album this South-West London due have lovingly created what sounds like an exploded diagram of an indie-pop record. Each element is laid out infront of you exposing its bare bones and the result is a sparse and at times haunting collection of songs that despite their stark simplicity are utterly compelling from the start. Theirs is a blend of glistening indie pop guitar melodies that flutter with new wave inspired reverberation and a vocal duo that drench the whole thing pure soul.
I must admit I find it hard to get past the Intro that opens this album. As a two minute instrumental it stands alone form the rest of the songs and is two minutes of near perfection with its echoing rhythm ponding in the cavernous space and the delicate melody circling above. But move on we must and as soon as Romy Madley Croft's soft vocals emerge on VCR like wildlife after a storm the spell is cast. Both her and Oliver Sim have the duty of filling in the hollow gaps in this sparse music but with their delicate and hushed tones they only fill it with more emtyness. Their delivery defies their roots and have the awkward softness of Scandinavia, together they make this sound quite unique.
By distancing each musical element from their context and exposing them in virtual isolation their power is all the more potent when they all come together. Seen most notably on Basic Space and Night Time the sense of satisfaction that occurs in you when you've wandered through the lonely musical space only to see it all gently converge with such precision and purpose is what makes this record so special. It's desperately lonely but there's warmth in these voices. They're intimate and close and above all real. Picking through the vulnerable particles of the human relationship the writing is simple and economic echoing the simplicity of the music. XX is an exercise of context, with the music and vocals being presented to us alone and then in unison. By bringing things together on songs like Crystalised or Islands they hold our attention throughout the record, our hearts straining for the next moment of bliss. Thankfully it doesn't have long to wait as these moments are plentiful on an album that simply glows with originality and honesty. This is a magnificent debut and one whose beauty may be set on slow release but pours forth in generous amounts as soon as you let it.
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