Last week the xx released “Chained,” the second single off Coexist, out September 11th. Singers Oliver Sim and Romy Madley-Croft portray an anxious exchange between distant lovers: Eager and swelling with youthful emotion, it’s lyrically and thematically old-territory for the xx. But instead of simply taking turns, they sing over each other and then come together; they sing to each other and then sing to no one in particular. It’s a messy and pleasant tension, peaking when they both sing “We used to get closer than this/Is it something you miss?”
Over the last two years, we’ve heard what producer Jamie xx is capable of (read the OurVinyl Song of the Day for his “Far Nearer” here). On “Chained,” over Oliver Sim’s steady bass line, the beat is off at first – then it builds a delicate groove centered around the sharp tick of a rimshot. The vocalists’ ability to realize a palpable, real-life conflict here – versus the adolescent melodrama found throughout their debut The xx – hints at real evolution. So does the intricate syncopation of the production on “Chained.” It’s not a heavy-hitting Jamie xx beat, but a refinement we can look forward to hearing more of.
By Megan Conway
OurVinyl | Contributor