Death of the Critic

I See You - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich


I See You, The XX takes a lot of the things that I really like about the music that they make, and strips out almost everything else. It is a sparse and spacey album where the sounds of silence say as much as every line or gently throbbing synth. It is a barren soundscape and it gives the trio room to express themselves. In a lot of ways it is everything I like about alternative pop, and lying back in the dark and letting the music flow was relaxing in the truest sense of the word.

It is an exercise in minimal sound and the first few tracks really work in this field so well. The opening lines of “Performance” slowly introduce more complexity as the song progresses. It starts with slow and soft synths layered with solitary guitar strings that are plucked one by one in the background of her voice. This slow build is excellent, and it will frequently drop away to leave nothing, only a few seconds of silence ringing heavily in your ears. It has a sense of impact and gravitas to the music in an inversion of the EDM drop. It has the same effect on you, but using restraint instead of wild thumping beats.

But, unfortunately, it does fall into the same trap that a lot of alternative pop does. It is a collection of sad love songs and at a certain point you start to feel like you’ve heard the lyrics before. I love all of the things that they do with the sound that surrounds the lyrics, but I just wish they didn’t just become melancholic songs about broken hearts. They were good songs, and they hit all of the right notes in all of the right ways, but I just wanted them to bring that same sense of creativity to their lyrics that they brought into the production.

It is still a great album, and in its short, under 40 minute runtime, it says all it needs to without overstaying its welcome. Its minimalistic sound highlights what I really like about The XX. It is more true to their sound than
Coexist, and they’ve dropped the more stage ready production that they had before. I See You is heavily produced, but it’s done with a gentle hand. It is a wonderfully crafted experience that makes me excited for how they’ll grow from here.


1. Dangerous
Say Something Loving
A Violent Noise
Brave for You
On Hold
I Dare You
Test Me

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Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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