Review Summary: Becoming more understated and quiet doesn't help The xx this time around.
I feel sorry for The xx in a way, I mean this album was pretty much destined to disappoint. The thing about their self titled debut was that it was a surprise. It was an album with bare bone groves, skeletal melodies, hushed vocals and understated boy girl vocals so when it's successor was released it was only natural to question how well it could develop. The answer; not very well. Don't get me wrong the album has some decent moments but for the most part it's bland and forgettable, there is no impressive singles, no full sounding but minimal instrumentals and it ultimately just comes across as boring.
The songwriting is another disappointing aspect of the album, although the xx have never been particularly impressive lyricists the word craft on Coexist feels particularly lackluster. Take for example the second verse of the opening track Angels:
" And Everyday, I am learning about you, the things that no one else sees."
It doesn't exactly mean much, the song itself doesn't excite much either. Briefly outlining an intimate relationship and then filling it with sexual tension doesn't work as well as it did on their first album.
As the album drags on, the songs become more and more blurry, and not in any artistic sense; they just become more and more forgettable. Songs like "Sunset", "Unfold" and the final track "Our Song" struggle to make any lasting impression and the tracks also struggle as well with vocals, often weaving in and out of pitch to make the tracks drag on longer than they should. The main saving graces of this album come in the form of "Chained", "Fiction" and "Missing" which are the tracks that work best with there new sound, but I can't help but feel the album follows a formula.
What The xx have essentially done is striped back there minimal sound more using even less drums and synths than before and create an album that just sounds too blank and boring. If the album's lyrical side was more emotional and less vague the album may be able to pull it's weight. Sadly it isn't and your left with what feels like a piece of minimalist modern art; not particularly impressive or meaningful and will go out of fashion quicker than leopard print rompers.