XO begins like the three albums before it—with a minimal guitar figure and Smith's delicate vocals. Then it does something different: it explodes with drums, cello, and piano, setting the tone for the indie icon's most sonically ambitious recording to date. Lushly arranged, these songs are some of Smith's most vibrant. "Waltz, No. 2 (XO)" feels like an Irish drinking tune, while "Baby Britain" channels The Beach Boys and "Amity" is pure driving rock. It's the perfect marriage of intimate songwriting and nuanced production.

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