Coexist, the xx’s follow-up to debut album xx, remains one of the most eagerly anticipated albums of the year. The release of single, ‘Angels‘ only whet the appetite and with less than a month to go, second single ‘Chained’ has got the heart pacing even more.
In many ways, ‘Chained’ follows the pattern set-up by its predecessor; understated and sparse, this is no top-40 thrilling hook packing tune. (The xx, after all, aren’t exactly a singles band). In fact, Chained, if anything, is even more empty. The beat barely develops from a simple pendulum drum-beat with dreamy rhythmic squeals and echoes coming out of the shadows. We get a typical xx flurry of electronic guitar beats around the 2 minute mark, but thats it.
One of the biggest developments of the song are the vocals of Romy Madley-Croft and Oliver Sim. On xx, their song parts were extremely separate; there to complement each other and the respective track, but nothing more. On ‘Chained’, Madly-Croft and Sim flutter over each other, trail off and interrupt as well as join together in the hushed silence; this the indie pop version of a lovers tiff. Somehow it gives you mixed thoughts; feeling somewhat distant from the song, but also claustrophobically involved.
Overall then, ‘Chained’ is very aptly named; simplistic and sublime, but still chained in, too controlled; you feel they have more to give, more adventure, but it is not forthcoming. Nonetheless, at the end of the day, only the xx can make music as magical and simply entrancing as this.