The xx

By
Photography Sebastian Kim

Published September 28, 2009

The xx’s debut album, xx (Young Turks/XL Recordings), has been hailed as the sound of young London, and for good reason: The band started making music four years ago, when its members were all between the ages of 16 and 19. In fact, they sometimes even recorded vocals late at night under duvet covers so their parents wouldn’t hear. “It’s like a weird snapshot, all those emotions frozen in time,” explains vocalist-guitarist Romy Madley Croft. “Our first songs were written before the experience of having been in love, but we had actual situations to talk about.” Despite the youth of Croft and her bandmates—bassist-vocalist Oliver Sim, guitarist-keyboardist Baria Qureshi, and producer/beats-man Jamie Smith—the term “old soul” might’ve been invented for The xx (though the quartet is also steeped in new soul and performs a spectral cover of Aaliyah’s “Hot Like Fire”). Nevertheless, there’s a sense of lived-in mystery in the way Croft and Sim wend their whispery voices around each other. And while Croft admits that the black outfits and blank stares the group affects in photos “make us look like a bunch of Goths,” she claims that she’s more influenced by Philip Glass than Robert Smith. “We leave a lot of space to breathe, so everything is uncomfortably empty,” she says. “We’ve accepted that we’re fragile people. We’re definitely lovers, not fighters.”

Check out music and tour dates at the band’s MySpace page.