The xx

The trio returns with a soaring, subtle ballad

Music page: image courtesy of The XX . Above: image © Rob Grieg

BY: Michael Perris and Liz MacDonald

With “On Hold,” ethereal trio the xx have released their first single in four years, the debut of I See You, their new album. On this subtle ballad, the British band retains some of the whispery reticence and restraint that characterized their breakout hit “Crystalised,” which they recorded themselves at home while they were still teenagers. But the xx are now a more fully realized musical unit, still moody and shy but with a fuller, expanded sound that gives “On Hold” a dark momentum.

Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim, the singer/lyricists of the xx, and Jamie Smith (a.k.a. Jamie xx), the band’s programmer, keyboardist and main producer, have evolved and “On Hold,” though bittersweet, shows new depth and confidence. Listen for the sly reference to Hall and Oates: “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” is subtly sampled throughout the single. Watch the music video, above.