I See You (The xx album)

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I See You
The xx I See You Album Cover.jpg
Studio album by The xx
Released 13 January 2017 (2017-01-13)
Recorded March 2014 – August 2016
Studio
Genre
Length 39:15
Label Young Turks
Producer
The xx chronology
Coexist
(2012)Coexist2012
I See You
(2017)
Alternative cover
Cover art for digital versions
Cover art for digital versions
Singles from I See You
  1. "On Hold"
    Released: 10 November 2016
  2. "Say Something Loving"
    Released: 1 January 2017
  3. "I Dare You"
    Released: 2 May 2017
  4. "Dangerous"
    Released: 2 October 2017[2]

I See You is the third studio album by English indie pop band the xx. It was released on 13 January 2017 through the Young Turks label.[3] It is the follow-up to Coexist, and is their first release in more than four years.

The band announced the album while announcing frequent collaborator Rodaidh McDonald for its production and reportedly working on it in May 2014. Band member Jamie xx released his solo debut In Colour in May 2015 and reflected that it would influence the sound and aesthetic of I See You.

The xx has stated that the record has a more distinctive sound and a more positive, open and "expansive" concept than the previous two albums. The lead single, "On Hold", was released on 12 November 2016. I See You received widespread acclaim from critics and became the band's second number-one album in the United Kingdom.

Recording and production[edit]

The xx announced in May 2014 that they were working on their third studio album with producer Rodaidh McDonald at Marfa Recording Co., a recording studio in Marfa, Texas.[4] According to Mixmag journalist Stephen Worthy, a "watershed" moment had occurred immediately before recording commenced when during a series of New York concerts, the trio—Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim, and Jamie Smith—"barely made eye contact with their audience. It was their way of saying goodbye to the old xx". While working on I See You, Croft enrolled in a songwriting course in California, Sim modeled for Christian Dior SE, and Smith released a solo album, 2015's In Colour.[5]

Smith, the xx's producer and multi-instrumentalist, stated that In Colour "definitely informed what we're doing" for I See You, while the band said the record would have a "completely different concept" from their first two albums.[6] They also said the album would sound "more outward-looking, open and expansive".[7] I See You was described by AnyDecentMusic? as an album of indie rock and dream pop music,[8] while Matt Hobbs from God Is in the TV said the xx expanded on the dance portion of their usual fusion of indie and alternative dance sounds.[9] According to Pitchfork's November 2016 update on the album, I See You was ultimately recorded between March 2014 and August 2016 at studios in Marfa, New York City, Los Angeles, London, and Reykjavík.[3]

Promotion[edit]

The album's lead single, "On Hold", was released on 10 November 2016, premiering on the xx's YouTube account ahead of the album's release date being announced.[10] On 19 November, the band performed as the musical guest on the American sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live.[11] "Say Something Loving" was released as the second single on 1 January 2017.[12]

The xx supported I See You with a concert tour of Europe throughout February and March 2017, before performing a series of music festivals in South America, including the Estéreo Picnic Festival in Bogotá and Lollapalooza dates in São Paulo, San Isidro, and Santiago.[13] A North American tour will begin on 14 April at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California and conclude on 26 May in Portland, Maine.[14]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
AnyDecentMusic?7.8/10[8]
Metacritic85/100[15]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars[16]
The A.V. ClubA−[17]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[18]
The Guardian4/5 stars[19]
The Independent4/5 stars[20]
NME4/5 stars[21]
Pitchfork8.4/10[22]
Q4/5 stars[23]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[24]
ViceB+[25]

I See You was released on 13 January 2017 by Young Turks to widespread critical acclaim. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 85, based on 35 reviews.[15] According to Kitty Empire, it was hailed by critics as the xx's "least insular album thus far".[26]

Writing for The Guardian, Alexis Petridis said the record "pulls off the feat of managing to sound both exactly like the xx and unlike anything they have done before". He believed the band's willingness to explore musical influences from Smith's In Colour album gave the tracks a "richer and fuller" quality than on their previous records.[19] I See You was called "the most eclectic, multidimensional, and ambitious album of The xx’s young career" by Philip Cosores from The A.V. Club,[17] while Entertainment Weekly's Nolan Feeney deemed it "the boldest work yet from a band famous for subtlety".[18] In the opinion of Uncut reviewer Sam Richards, the band "expanded their horizons without sacrificing any of the emotional intimacy that makes them one of the most compelling acts around".[27] Q critic Victoria Segal noted its shared lyrical themes with Coexist and echoes of the "club culture" from In Colour, while concluding that musically, the band were "extending past glories rather than copying them".[23]

Robert Christgau was somewhat less enthusiastic in his review for Vice. He found growth and accessibility in songs such as "On Hold", "Say Something Loving", and "Brave for You", but believed "however impressive their originality and skill, the details always end up getting away" throughout the album's "indistinct murmurs ... because in the end the band's shared aesthetic is so contained."[25] Will Hodgkinson was more critical in The Times, writing that the album failed to "hit the highs of their previous work" while accusing the group of posturing, making note of Croft's "breathy emoting" on "Brave for You".[28]

In the first week of release, I See You sold 26,513 copies in the United Kingdom and debuted at number one on the British albums chart. It was the band's second album to top the chart after Coexist in 2012.[29] In the United States, it debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 and recorded 46,000 album-equivalent units; 36,000 of these were traditional album sales.[30] In Japan, the album entered the Oricon Albums Chart at number 34 and sold 2,073 copies in its first week there.[31]

I See You was nominated for IMPALA's European Album of the Year Award.[32]

Accolades[edit]

Publication Accolade Rank Ref.
Billboard Best Albums of 2017: Billboard's Top 50 Picks
14
Diffuser Diffuser's Top 25 Albums of 2017
19
Digital Trends The 50 Best Albums Released in 2017
29
Double J The 50 Best Albums of 2017
37
Esquire UK The 50 Best Albums of 2017
N/A
Exclaim! Exclaim!'s Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums of 2017
18
Fopp Fopp's Best Albums of 2017
2
Highsnobiety The 25 Best Albums of 2017
23
The Independent The 30 Best Albums of 2017
28
Mixmag The Top 50 Albums of 2017
19
NME NME's Albums of the Year 2017
46
No Ripcord No Ripcord's Best Albums of 2017
12
OOR Album van het jaar
5
Paste The 50 Best Albums of 2017
28
Pitchfork The 50 Best Albums of 2017
40
PopMatters The 60 Best Albums of 2017
7
Pretty Much Amazing The Best Albums of 2017
7
Q Magazine Q Magazine's 50 Best Albums of 2017
17
Radio X The 30 Best New Albums of 2017
N/A
Rolling Stone Australia 50 Best Albums of 2017
30
Spectrum Culture Top 20 Albums of 2017
10
The Skinny The Skinny's Top 50 Albums of 2017
36
Time The Top 10 Albums of 2017
8
Uncut Uncut's 75 Best Albums of 2017
50
Uproxx 50 Best Albums of 2017
37

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft; all music composed by Jamie Smith, Sim, and Croft; all tracks produced by Smith and Rodaidh McDonald; unless otherwise noted.

Standard version
No.TitleLength
1."Dangerous"4:10
2."Say Something Loving" (additional production by Romy Madley Croft)3:58
3."Lips"3:20
4."A Violent Noise"3:47
5."Performance" (lyrics by Croft)4:06
6."Replica"4:09
7."Brave for You" (lyrics by Croft)4:13
8."On Hold"3:44
9."I Dare You"3:53
10."Test Me" (lyrics and additional production by Croft)3:55
Total length:39:15

Sample credits

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the album's liner notes.[58]

The xx

  • Romy Madley Croft – guitar, vocals; keyboards (tracks 2, 10); additional production (tracks 2, 10); art direction, design
  • Oliver Sim – bass, vocals; photography
  • Jamie Smith – synths, drums, keys; violin (track 5); piano (tracks 6, 11); vocals (track 10); guitar (track 12); production, engineering; programming; mixing; string arrangements (tracks 5, 12)

Additional personnel

  • Rodaidh McDonald – production, engineering
  • David Wrench – additional programming; mixing
  • Marta Salogni – engineering
  • John Davis – mastering
  • Caius Pawson – A&R; management
  • Stella Mozgawa – drums (tracks 2, 11)
  • Hal Ritson – brass recording and engineering (track 1); additional programming, bass guitar (track 1)
  • Neil Waters – trumpet (track 1)
  • Ben Somers – saxophone (track 1)
  • Iskra Strings – strings (tracks 5, 12)
  • John Smart – violin (tracks 5, 12)
  • Oli Langford – violin (tracks 5, 12)
  • James Underwood – violin (tracks 5, 12)
  • Eos Counsell – violin (tracks 5, 12)
  • Emma Owens – viola (tracks 5, 12)
  • Laurie Anderson – viola (tracks 5, 12)
  • Peter Gregson – cello (tracks 5, 12)
  • Charlotte Eksteen – cello (tracks 5, 12)
  • Paul Frith – orchestration (track 5)
  • Sam Thompson – orchestration (track 12)
  • Phil Lee – art direction, design
  • Simon Guzylack – management

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[100] Gold 100,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

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External links[edit]