the xx: xx
The self-titled debut album from the xx is disjointed and uneven. It’s one of those albums that starts off strongly and then loses steam, inspiration and even good songwriting. I know this sounds harsh but I really feel like maybe some of these songs were written at one time and the rest at another. The first 5 songs are new wave-ish, sparkly sounding pop creations. Each one features Romy Madler Croft and Oliver Sim on vocals and the way their voices sound together is intoxicating. The songs feature everything from reverb guitars to crystallized keyboards to electronic beats and embellishments. It all makes for quite the interesting experience. Then comes the 6th track, “Fantasy,” which stands starkly alone on the album for it’s bare and unfettered cleanness. It’s a spaced out, middle of the album, stopper- and it acts as just that. Every song that follows it is like a bad visit to Sarah McLachlan land, complete with wimpy keyboards.
Apparently Romy is inspired by Tracy and the Plastics and other fierce female singers, but on the second half of the xx’s album the sheer brashness of Tracy and the Plastics is not apparent. Instead, we get some diluted mix of R&B styled vocals and watered down sounding beats. Romy’s voice is annoyingly perfect in pitch too.
Kurt Vile: Childish Prodigy
Like I’ve said before, Kurt Vile has it. Whatever it is, he has it. Soul, charisma, passion, it’s all there. His album, which comes out Oct. 6, is like a giant wake up call. Listen to it if you’re confused, un-inspired or just looking for something that is totally not boring. Vile’s songs are rock and roll at its best- hard and sometimes fast, provocative and even sexy. “Hunchback” available below, is one of the best songs i’ve heard in awhile. It’s so grimy sounding. Like Neil Young, even.
Vivian Girls: Everything Goes Wrong
Speaking of Neil Young, Vivian Girls told me in an interview, I think it was Cassie, that Neil Young is a favorite and a true inspiration of the bands. This can definitely be heard in their music- the girls have a keen ear for melody and Cassie certainly likes feedback, but Neil was a master songcrafter- and that’s basically what is missing from Vivian Girls. The girls have tons of energy and you can tell they love to have fun, and that’s all well and good, but when songs lack a backbone… I don’t know. Without a spine you’re…spineless? Breakable?
That said, the VG’s have proven to be unbreakable. Their album came out a couple of weeks ago and has gotten both good and lukewarm reviews. Maybe their brand of fun time music without much depth is all that people want. And I say “fair enough” to that.
“When I’m Gone,” offered below, is the meatiest of their songs. It’s damn catchy and goes a long way at parties.
the xx: Basic Space
Kurt Vile: Hunchback
Vivian Girls: When I’m Gone