Editor’s Note: The Albumism staff has selected what we believe to be the 100 Most Dynamic Debut Albums Ever Made, representing a varied cross-section of genres, styles and time periods. Click “Next Album” below to explore each album or view the full album index here.
From the aptly named “Intro,” the xx draw you into their world of melancholy, desire and dreams and never let you go. Over the course of the ensuing brief 38 minutes they peel back layers of intimate reflections and late night musings as lead vocalists Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sims trade lines and verses in a way that presents an intriguing “he said, she said” narrative to each track. This structure of songwriting and delivery doesn’t come across as a gimmick, but rather a necessity of expression as if each voice would be silenced without the support of the other.
Supported by sparse beats and minimalist production helmed by Jamie Smith (later known as Jamie xx), the album offers glimpses of dream pop on “Islands,” “Night Time” and “Crystalised.” But for the most part, the album is happy to reside in a meandering, quiet ambience of solace displayed in tracks such as “VCR,” “Infinity,” and “Shelter.”
The appeal of xx is in its quite confidence. Rather than bursting onto the scene, both band and album seem content to slowly emerge and reveal themselves, which makes the process of listening to the album in its entirety even more rewarding.