One thing's for sure; it's hard to warm to them immediately.
The sulky-teenager personas, the particularly uncharismatic, unmemorable singles (in terms of Chart potential), and the almost lack lustre stage presence during their live performances might suggest that they're one of those bands that you really have to work at liking. I bought this album with, I confess, limited expectations. I'm pleased to say that I was utterly wrong. They had me hypnotised from the very first track. Intro would be my track of choice if I had to pick one song that sums up the album; it's short and sweet but quintessential XX material and a great indication of what's to come.
The whole feel of the band is minimalist and stripped back. A constant air of brooding comes from the heavy bass synth background, punctuated with sparse guitar riffs, repetitive keyboard and a sharp drum-machine rhythm section.
On paper it could have been put together in someone's basement, low production value, few instruments, nothing more than three or four layers at most. And yet someone it sounds like much more than the sum of its parts. What should make it awful actually becomes it's greatest attraction. The resulting sound is close, almost intimate, as though the band is actually in your bedroom giving you a private concert.
My absolutely favourite part is the singing. Usually boy-girl vocal parings just jar with each others, but here Croft's voice is gorgeous, sultry and subtle and works well with her male counterpart. Like the backing, the vocals are subdued, and very really rise above a sullen, angst-ridden murmur; perfect for songs about love, loss and being young.
So no, songs like these aren't going to shake stadiums full of screaming fans, but then again I don't think they're meant to. Unlike so many albums which use big statement tracks to keep a album from losing momentum, XX is more like a constant ebb and flow of noise, with very little to interrupt it. I literally can't stop listening to this album; it's addictive, bad for your health and should come with a warning label. 5/5