Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The xx: The xx [XL/Young Turks, 2009]
Their minimalism is so contained that as you warm against your better judgement to the well-spaced notes, subtle depth charges, and ostinato hooks with which they couch their gentle cool, you figure that the matched female-and-male drawls the music sets off will prove unworthy of further commitment. But soon you learn that these two Southwest London 20-year-olds--to leave out their ancillary and now departed guitarist and crucial but probably not generative young producer-drummer--aren't being minimal to prove they're any shade of cool. It's more like they're being minimal because they're shy. Rather than resorting to an obscurantism they're too decent for or feigning a sophistication few achieve, they trade ideas about intimacy as contemporaries, comrades, prospects, lovers, ex-lovers, and friends. It's hard to imagine their music getting much better. But it's not hard to imagine their lives getting much better. Which may be all their music needs. A