If there was a how-to book on cool, indie-pop band The xx could have written it. Or, better yet, have had it cribbed from their lives.
1. Be English.
2. Have names like Romy and Oliver.
3. Have gone to the same school as Hot Chip and FourTet.
4. Shrug off the notion that said school influenced the band.
5. Write dreamy-dancey songs that are simultaneously haunting and soaring, soulful and modern.
Photo from the band’s blog.
Each track on The xx’s Coexist breathes and pulses with longing, with poetic gesture and swoon. There’s white space, there’s rising heat, there’s tension that thrums with its own musicality.
Guitarist Romy Madley Croft and bassist Oliver Sim share singing duties. Croft’s vocal is all halting catches and a shyness overcome by emotionalism. Sim’s voice is duskier, smoother. Together, theirs is a romantic pairing. Breathy and intimate. To listen to the spare duet of “Reunion” is to happen upon a tender moment unfolding.
The xx plays the Orange Peel on Wednesday, Jan. 30. At press time the show is sold out, but if you like what you hear, it might be worth looking for an extra ticket. The opener, Austra, is also a stellar act. That band, an indie-pop-noir outfit from Toronto, played Moogfest in 2011 (photo by Bill Rhodes).