Even though I love the latest record of The XX, lately whilst listening for it it had the impression there is something missing. The tension is there and every time the silence drops in Missing, I break a little. So the record is hurting me, hurting me in all the right ways. But still there is this sense that there is something lacking. It wasn’t until today that I, when after listening to Coexist again I decided to give Stubborn Heart another try, realised what is was that I’m missing in the record. Coexist does not have songs.
Coexist is all emotion to me. Atmospheric heartfelt, burning emotion laid out in yearning beats, dark threatening soundscapes and whining synthesisers. A burning yearning for something rather undefined, hurting and pushing under the skin perfectly translated to sound and huskily whispered words. But it lacks songs, head-tail story songs. Like sketches of Egon Schiele they set the lines to show the tormented bodies, but leave the rest to your imagination. Powerful sketches, yes, but still only the outer lines show.
The British duo Stubborn Heart paints in the same dark charcoal tones as The XX. Dragging dubstep beats and a 1990s Bristol sound brought together with soul and minimalism. Brought together in songs, not soundscapes that vanish from memory the moment they have passed, only leaving the emotion. But brought together in actually songs that stick (and hurt in all the right ways).
Nothing like The XX, with a way denser sound and fuller compositions. But in a more structured dark dubsoulpoptriphop playing with precisely the same emotions.