Review: The xx’s Minimal Sound Gets Expansive Update on ‘I See You’

The xx’s latest album is ‘I See You.’

For a band that often gets described as “minimal,” the xx pack a massive amount of drama and emotion into their subtle music. The U.K. trio specialize in Zen restraint, blurring the line between indie guitar pop, R&B and dance music in stripped-down songs that are as sleek and eerie as they are weirdly inviting. It’s the perfect stark backdrop for the way bassist-vocalist Oliver Sim and guitarist-vocalist Romy Madley Croft build thick tension out of minute intimacy, doing more with awkward eye-contact, muttered confessions or mid-breakup negotiations than most bands do with a whole love affair.

On the first two xx albums, 2009’s xx and 2012’s Coexist, every bit of music – be it a ripple of reverb-heavy guitar or a dubby bass line or a distant drum hit – seemed organized for maximum less-is-more impact. Credit for that goes to the band’s producer-drummer Jamie Smith (a.k.a. Jamie xx), who…