The xx, 'The xx' (XL)

Critical Mass
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by Philip Sherburne

2(XX+XY) = the xx, a coed London quartet whose combined ages barely reach back to the birth of rock'n'roll, yet whose debut album plumbs its essence like a slinky double helix. Channeling Sun Studios via Chris Isaak ("Infinity"), while nodding to slowcore kings Low ("Fantasy") and sweater-weather stalwarts Yo La Tengo, they worry away at brooding bass/guitar repetitions soaked in echo, with dazed boy/girl vocals blowing hot and cold. There's a world-weary eros to lines like "Can I make it better with the lights turned on," and even merely atmospheric cuts ("Fantasy") cause goosebumps. Sweet as novocaine.

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