(Adapted George Orwell quote)
“It’s easy to think of The xx as a fashionable band: Its members have a sleek all-in-black look, its typography and cover art is coolly and distinctively styled, and the group itself has been showered with validation, including Britain’s 2010 Mercury Prize. But beneath all that tightly controlled image-making lays music that’s raw and vulnerable; shy, worried tentativeness is wired into a sound that shimmers powerfully, but remains as fragile and delicate as a soap bubble.
“The xx’s second album, Coexist, came out last fall, and it plays like a series of tensely lovely interludes, each building to a climax that never arrives. Plopped in front of Bob Boilen’s desk and asked to play a few songs from the record, singer-guitarist Romy Madley Croft and singer-bassist Oliver Sim have reason to look slightly ill-at-ease: The setting and band configuration robs them of cover. No beats from member Jamie Smith, who opted to hang back at the hotel; no shroud of darkness or bright lights pointed outward to blunt the crowd’s stares. Throughout their characteristically compact seven-minute performance, Croft and Sim avoid eye contact, as they visibly try to ignore the huge throng and cameras positioned maybe 10 feet away from them.
“What comes out of their performance is not just beauty, but humanity — the sense that, in all of The xx’s songs, all the calm chilliness in the world can’t quite contain an exposed heart.”
Producer: Bob Boilen; Editor: Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Becky Lettenberger, Claire O’Neill, Maggie Starbard
Clips from 2001: A Space Odyssey (director Stanley Kubrick, 1968).
Mid-way between happiness and sadness
Boiling but never over-flowing
Forced to only make a better come back
More powerful and poignant and false again
Destructive lust for life erected
On the verge pricked up like a picket
Fearing to respond to the tempting
but malevolent call of the other side
Just because it goes so beautifully next to the Sharon van Etten song that I just posted. And the footage has been edited together from Picnic at Hanging Rock, directed by Peter Weir (1975).