Chained (The xx song)

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Single by The xx
from the album Coexist
Released 7 August 2012
Recorded Our Studio, London[1]
Genre Indie pop
Length 2:47
Label Young Turks
Songwriter(s) Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim
Producer(s) Jamie xx
The xx singles chronology

"Chained" is a song by English indie pop group The xx, released on 7 August 2012 by Young Turks. It was the second single from their 2012 album Coexist.[2] The song was produced by percussionist Jamie xx and written by guitarist Romy Madley Croft and bassist Oliver Sim.[1]

"Chained" charted at number 19 in Belgium and received positive reviews from music critics, who complimented Jamie xx's minimalist production and the vocal interplay between Croft and Sim.

Writing and recording[edit]

"Chained" was one of the first songs written for Coexist.[3] Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim wrote the song together in a room with her playing keyboards and him playing bass.[3] After they finished writing it, Jamie xx incorporated his beat to the song, which Croft said "took the song on a complete different turn".[3] They recorded the song at their studio in London.[1]


The song is a lament of a couple's distance from each other:[4] "Did I hold you too tight? / Did I not let enough light in? ... We used to be closer than this / Is it something you miss?"[5] Croft and Sim finish each other's lines through their interplay on the song.[6] Hari Ashurst of Pitchfork Media views their vocal interplay as "duelling" and writes, "The two vocalists swoop and duck around each other's verses, almost as if they're avoiding each other. Sometimes, they hit the same slipstream, but more often [Croft] and Oliver are singing over each other, trailing off alone, or simply trading wistful lines."[7] He cites the chorus line as the sole moment of release on the song.[7]

Its music features subtle flourishes,[8] cooing sounds, a brief guitar solo,[4] and muffled 2-step beats.[9] Jamie xx's minimalist production incorporates shimmering cymbals and syncopated rimshots.[10] "Chained" experiments with musical buildup, including climactic guitar and rising beats.[8][11] The song's only crescendo is by a solitary guitar line,[7] and the stuttering, off-beat kick drum that beings the song develops into a more standard rhythm.[7] Paula Mejia of Prefix writes that the song "carefully structures itself on the formulaic build of beats, rising like the pace of a palpitating heartbeat and bursting into a shimmer of oscillating sounds".[11] The song also contains a sample of The Crusaders' 1974 song "Lilies of the Nile".[1]


Pitchfork Media's Hari Ashurst called the song "an intense pinprick of drama" and complimented Croft and Sim's "intense" vocal interplay, writing that "the thrill is emotional and brave".[7] Heather Phares of AllMusic cited it as a highlight on Coexist and commented that "they share an intimacy that makes listeners feel like they're eavesdropping."[12] Will Hermes of Rolling Stone gave the song four out of five stars and praised Jamie xx's "sleight-of-hand minimalism", writing that "at present he may be the most elegant beatmaker in pop."[10]

Track listing[edit]

Digital download
No. Title Writer(s) Producer Length
1. "Chained" Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim Jamie xx 2:47


Credits adapted from Coexist liner notes.[1]

  • Romy Madley Croft – composer, guitar, keyboards, vocals
  • Rodaidh McDonald – mixing
  • Oliver Sim – bass, composer, vocals
  • Mandy Parnell – mastering
  • Jamie Smith – beats, engineer, mixing, MPC, producer


Charts (2012) Peak
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[13] 19

Release history[edit]

Date Label
7 August 2012[2] Young Turks


  1. ^ a b c d e Coexist (CD liner notes). The xx. London: Young Turks. 2012. YT080CD. 
  2. ^ a b Young, Alex (7 August 2012). "New Music: The xx – "Chained"". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2012-09-23. 
  3. ^ a b c Marchese, David (16 August 2012). "The xx Share the Secrets Behind the Songs on 'Coexist'". Spin. New York. Retrieved 2012-09-23. 
  4. ^ a b Lipshutz, Jason (7 September 2012). "The xx, 'Coexist': Track-By-Track Review". Billboard. New York. Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  5. ^ Elan, Priya (7 September 2012). "The xx - 'Coexist'". NME. London. Retrieved 2012-09-11. 
  6. ^ Cragg, Michael (7 September 2012). "The xx". The Fly. London. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Ashurst, Hari (7 August 2012). "The xx: "Chained"". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2012-09-23. 
  8. ^ a b Ryan, Will (14 September 2012). "Album Review The xx – Coexist". Beats Per Minute. Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  9. ^ Gibb, Rory (3 September 2012). "The xx". The Quietus. Retrieved 2012-09-07. 
  10. ^ a b Hermes, Will (10 August 2012). "Chained". Rolling Stone. New York. Retrieved 2012-09-23. 
  11. ^ a b Mejia, Paula (6 September 2012). "Album Review: The xx - Coexist". Prefix. Retrieved 2012-09-08. 
  12. ^ Phares, Heather. "Coexist - The xx". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2012-09-23. 
  13. ^ " – The xx – Chained" (in Dutch). Ultratip.

External links[edit]