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The XX – XX

Released on Young Turks

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

London’s the XX make dreamy indie pop that is perfect to chill out to.

The XX are a group of four 20 year olds that sound a lot older than they look. Singer Romy Madley Croft has a lovely voice, sweet and airy. Bassist Oliver Sim fills the vocal gaps with a voice that’s oddly flat, creating an unusual contrast with Croft’s delicacy.

They’re a talented lot, the XX, with Jamie Smith and Baria rounding out their sound with drums, keyboards and occasional guitar. The XX are one of those bands that are so heavily influenced by past musical landscapes that they end up sounding as if they’ve found themselves in the wrong era. Although the styles are totally different, the album is oddly reminiscent of The Black Crows debut in that if you picked it up without looking too closely, you’d never guess it had been made by a bunch of musicians barely out of their teens.

Hailing from South London has left an indelible mark on the XX, though. There’s a bit of Radiohead in there, particularly on “Infinity”. It’s still clear that this is a modern indie band, once you get past the nostalgic touches — in fact, maybe what makes XX sound so nostalgic is how very accomplished an album it is. XX doesn’t sound like a debut, it sounds like something you’d expect a band to make after getting some significant recording experience and making all the usual rookie mistakes. Apparently XX made their mistakes in private, because this is about as polished as it gets as far as debuts are concerned.

An unusually impressive beginning — it will be interesting to see where the XX goes from here.