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Digital Subscriptions > Long Live Vinyl > Nov 2019 > The xx

The xx

At the end of a decade characterised by the riotous and hedonistic energy of youth, The xx’s fragile self-titled debut instead explored hushed empty space and vulnerability. Seeping into the collective consciousness of a city coming down from the garagerock revival and financial ruin, Sam Willis explains how it helped to define the following 10 years in pop


The xx (l to r): Jamie xx, Oliver Sim, Baria Qureshi and Romy Madley Croft

The year 2009 was, in many ways, a year of flux for Britain. The shattering impact of the 2008 financial crash had brought the country to its knees. Culturally, the year also signalled the end of a near decade-long dynasty in British music. 2009 marked the deathknell of the garage-rock and post-punk revivals, which had been mainstays in London and beyond since the pan-Atlantic explosion of The Strokes and White Stripes in 2001. In the shallows of this musical sea-change, landfill indie had subsided to the juggernaut of American pop.

However, in the deep, twilight waters of this shift, a hushed and musically subversive album emerged which would provide the bedrock for much of pop’s forthcoming humanisation; The xx’s xx.

Meeting for the first time in a sandpit as toddlers, Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim (guitarist/vocals and bass/ vocals respectively) forged a kinship over two decades, which proved to be definitive for the album’s almost immediate and lasting impact.

The unity first discovered in infancy would continue during their time at Putney’s Elliott School, a co-ed comprehensive which, by chance, became a fertile breeding ground of music talent, withalumni including The Maccabees, Hot Chip, Four Tet and Burial. Their friendship became a creative collaboration withex-bandmate Baria Qureshi in the final years of compulsory education.

Although already school mates, Jamie Smith, aka Jamie xx, would join a year later in 2006 as their producer and beatmaker after being introduced by Young Turks label boss Caius Pawson. Excited by the then teenagers’ talent, Young Turks installed a purpose-built studio for the band in the garage of XL Records in Ladbroke Grove, gave them the keys and, crucially, time to explore their sound.

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About Long Live Vinyl

Tonight, we're gonna party like it's 1999… Issue 32 of Long Live Vinyl brings you an exclusive first look inside the huge new 15LP Prince boxset as members of the Purple genius' band and his closest friends tell the story of the original 1999 album. We also hear from Estate Manager Michael Howe why this is only the beginning for Prince collectors. Pick up your copy to find out which releases are coming next from the Paisley Park vault. Elsewhere, in our packed interviews section, we sit down with Elbow, Big Thief, Adam Green and Jason Isbell to chat about their new albums, as well as delving into the history of the legendary Palm Tree label, Island Records, as they celebrate their 60th birthday. Fab Four fans should check out our Essential Beatles solo albums collector's guide. Plus we visit the Premier League referee who's running his own record shop, as well as taking an in-depth look at The XX's Mercury Prize-winning album xx. If all that's not enough, you'll find the widest range of new album, reissue and hi-fi reviews anywhere on the newsstand. Long Live Vinyl is THE magazine for vinyl lovers. Pick up your copy today!