The xx avoid the sophomore slump with their second album, "Coexist", a beautiful and spacious indie album that's sure to be on dozens of Best of 2012 Lists come year's end.
While The xx's self-titled debut from 3 years ago focused on creating catchy tunes with as little instrumentation as possible, "Coexist" simply looks at sparseness without worrying about a hook; this is hardly a bad thing, however, as we see the band achieve new creative heights (if you can call something this minimal a height) with such songs as the steel-drum coated "Reunion" or the gorgeous "Unfold", both highlights. Silence is also used much more effectively on this album than on the debut; on the first album, it seemed forced as some kind of artistic statement, however, here, it functions as just another choice of instrument and accentuates the themes running through the music at that particular point.
And speaking of themes, this album is one of the best, lyrically, I've seen all year. It explores concepts of love and loss with two remarkably contrasting, yet astoundingly similar voices. Not once did I hear a note out of place or a bum lyric over the entire 37 minutes, so if lyrics and vocals are your thing, you're in for a treat.
Still, this album isn't perfect and it slips from time to time into imitation of some of Explosions In the Sky's quieter moments (which is hardly a bad thing, just lacking in originality) as well as having some head-scratching choices in the music (like the seemingly pointless cymbal rolls that open "Chained") But these minor issues can't even remotely begin to detract from the sheer beauty and mastery displayed on "Coexist", an album that will definitely be in the running for my top 10 this year.