After one continuous play-through (followed by numerous repeats and a few weeks of rumination), it’s safe to say that The xx have characteristically solidified their broody yet unique sound with their newest album, Coexist. With the fear of a commercially driven influence or a drastic change of pace given frontman Jamie Smith’s recent foray into producing and remixing, The xx have strayed minimally from their critically acclaimed debut. For those who so vigorously enjoyed ‘XX’, ‘Coexist’ comes as both a pleasant surprise and a huge sigh of relief. The tone and instrumentation remain slow and deep, with the occasional quirky dissonance added to songs like Try and Reunion, pulling the listener slightly back from the depths of despair. This despair, in part, is created by the breathy and emotionally driven vocals of band members Romy and Oliver, a delivery which compliments the lyrics’ deep, almost obsessive longing, to, what else, co-exist, a characterization which undoubtedly reflects the elusive relationship between the bandmates. Songs like Missing and Tides express an almost eerie dependency, and if anything, the album lacks a distinctly upbeat track. It’s those few added beats and a slightly quicker pace on songs like Fiction and Sunset which showcase The xx’s ability to marry slow, emotive vocals with a relatively quicker tempo, without sounding contradictory or contrived (making them two of my favourite tracks on the album). That being said, the continuity of the album makes it a consistent narrative best enjoyed in full, from front to back. For the critics who say that the album falls short of their debut, I say, give it another listen. With a successful first album, a second will inevitably be placed under the closest degree of scrutiny; this close scrutiny, having listened to the album on repeat, is where its true intricacies are showcased. Applause to The xx for sticking to their original (successful) penchant for mysterious and enigmatic indie pop.