Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The xx: Coexist [Young Turks, 2012]
Even sparer and stiller than their minimalist debut, this will hit any normal listener as a hyperaesthetic downer--a bore. After three years, couldn't two clever lads and their clever lassie devise some clever twist that would lively them up without soiling their precious principles? But the music does eventually tiptoe in, and quiet as its kept the lyrics tiptoe on in with them. Damn right this group is obsessed, artistically, with young love, which in case you didn't know remains a grand theme of universal significance, and these scrupulously abstract verses capture its obsessive doubts and fragile exaltations with delicacy and tenderness. Like it or not, they add up to a song cycle with a happy ending--the joy of which may grow in wisdom or crumble back toward nothingness tomorrow. A-