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The brave new world of the xx, pop’s brooding perfectionists | Musique Non Stop

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

The brave new world of the xx, pop’s brooding perfectionists

Solo success, confronting grief, sobering up… the feted London trio talk frankly about how the events of the past four years informed their new album, I See You

The three members of the xx cross from Poland into Lithuania overnight, trying to sleep inside a bus that judders and lurches along an uneven border road. It is December, an unforgiving time to be touring eastern Europe, and snow that was coming in committedly when they left Warsaw still falls when they arrive in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. It’s cold here, beer-jacket weather, hot-toddy weather, get-messed-up-after-the-gig-to-distract-from-the-bite weather. But the band – Oliver Sim, Romy Madley Croft, Jamie Smith – travel in good, sober order. They toured their first album, in 2010, blinkingly, greenly, through a fog of personal tragedy. Two years later they got through a second-album tour mostly by partying wherever they went. (Moving from “encore to after-show… chasing the night,” as the band phrase it in a new song, Replica.) When we meet, the release of album number three, I See You, is looming. For various reasons they expect to take this one around the world in steadier, less emotionally hectic fashion.

Arriving in central Vilnius at 10am, the trio alight from the tour bus and teeter over icy pavement, straight to their hotel rooms for some extra sleep. I’m in the lobby waiting for them when they emerge, one by one, at midday. Sim (27 years old, bassist and co-vocalist) appears in a splendid fur-lapelled coat. His enormous green eyes lend him at once a striking handsomeness as well as the perpetual suggestion of worry. More so than Sim, Madley Croft (27, lead guitar and vocals) is dressed for her terrain: leather boots, hoodie, black-camo raincoat, a hat over her dark shoulder-length hair. A stitched image on the hat is faded and hard to distinguish and when I ask her what it is she answers in a soft, whistling voice: “Three babies dancing.” She says she found the hat in a skate shop somewhere. Smith (28, percussion and production) might have found his entire outfit in a Sports Direct somewhere. He comes down in Nike T-shirt, Adidas trackies, his copper curls sprouting over the strap of a backwards-turned cap.

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by Tom Lamont via Electronic music | The Guardian