review: The XX - On Hold (Young Turks)
4out of 10
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The xx are pretty fucking yawn, this much is clear at this point. Hooks and beats that fall just short of engaging, landing squarely in the midday realm of Triple J fodder, wafting out the windows of a Holden Commodore Ute pulled up on the yellow sand of the construction site next door, mostly ignored, until some sad fuck with the same nasally voice pipes up sporadically through the closing bars “Hot new track… from the one and only… The x… x… we’re really loving that new album, and so are you guys, too, hearing from Luke outta Rooty Hill“. Have an orange slice, mate, you’re looking parched.

And, but, so, it’s the new “The xx” album, so you can’t help but vibe with it a little. The vocals at times remain consummately chill, something they retrieved from their earlier stuff, though at other times it harkens back to the Meatloaf-esque honking of Coexist. Their production sounds amazing, like Jamie xx needs to find some interesting musicians quick to mix/engineer for, because it’s some of the tightest sound going. And yeah, they do put a good summer hit together, like “On Hold” is a hit, pump that shit out my Bluetooth speaker in one hand, in the other an acrid plastic bottle of cider, descending the stairs from my mate’s mum’s porch onto the rich grass, a bunch of us all spread around the table preloading for… I dunno, forgot where I was going with that bit.

Terribly boring at times though, this album. They mistake plodding, mildly off-key noodling for atmospheric songwriting. “Chained” and “Fiction” in particular, though the guitar lick in the former almost saves it. But at most times, it doesn’t even furnish the listener with such a strong response as boredom. Just imagine like the dullest blue eyed soul ever made, then take away everything that could even be enjoyed of that, any vocal chops or lush instrumentation, or actual grooves, and insert just dry blips and indifferent sampling with atonal Benadryl’d mumbles.

Nick Morlet