Simplicity That Became a Strategy… The XX

By Alexa Mazza |

With their subtle fame received from their self-titled and debut album, XX, The XX managed to take home the Mercury Prize in 2010. Coexist, their second album was released on 10 September 2012 but when Oliver Sim described their inspiration for their upcoming album to be “club music” fans of the band were shocked and apprehensive to say the least. Such a statement left fans wondering how their majestic, dream-like pop that XX revealed is combined with club music?


The XX logo that has become popular on social networks

The band is made up of Romy Madley Croft who does the guitar and vocals, Oliver Sim who also does vocals as well as bass and lastly Jamie Smith also known as Jamie xx who is in charge of beats and MPC. The XX came up with their band name for purely aesthetic reasons before they had begun making music. Croft and Sim thought the double X’s appealed to them but it has since become an online hit and is increasingly popular in picture blogs like and Tumblr. The XX is completely open to the listeners interpretation of what the name could mean and thus adds a feeling of mystery to the band.

Coexist showcases Jamie’s talent, the beats recorded in the mix are much higher tempo, obviously inspired for the club scene, ranging from the melodious steel drums of Reunion, the Dubstep-esque Missing, and the trance of Swept Away. While their similar sounding guitar tune has remained unchanged and isolated, the vocals and bass have evolved along with the times and the maturity of the artists to produce a sterling list of songs on EP’s.

Sim gives more credence to the album with his signature flair, giving much more of his own influence. Bass lines are exaggerated and higher in Coexist showcasing Sim’s unique style and metodolgy. Swept Away and Tides become more interesting with the higher bass, with Tides being underpinned with a eloquent latin influence. Sim creates a heavier vocal track, offering sounds that are louder and more complex, and he makes his debut as the vocal line carrier in this new album.

The vocal interplay between Sim and Madley-Croft is no holds barred as Croft’s fragile but intense vocal flair mixes with Sim’s dominating bass. The interplay between the two has been described as “intense” and marches into the realm of “serenity”. The chemistry between the two lead vocalists has led many to believe that they have been together their whole lives, which is true as they have been best friends since the age of two, with the artists being called siblings on many occasions; however their chemistry is undeniable on stage leading to widespread acclaim and electrifying live performances.

The XX has been featured on pop-culture hits like Suits, Top Gear and the new adaptation of The Great Gatsby, also being chosen by none other than Matt Groening to perform live at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival a huge achievement for such a young band.


Oliver Sim, Romy Madley-Croft and Jamie XX of The XX

Coexist is The XX’s gamechanger. While still being completely in the same vein as their previous album, XX, Coexist is changing how the band is viewed offering a more simplistic genre of music. Minimalistic sound is favoured and all their music has to be able to be done live, and done well. Coexist brings The XX into the foreground and will definitely change how the band is viewed, and most certainly for the better.


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