The xx

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About The xx

When The xx unveiled their breathy bedroom ballads in 2009, they sounded like no one else. Their silky blend of sultry trip-hop, wistful dream-pop, and bass-driven dubstep stimulates in its restraint. “We weren’t overthinking it,” vocalist/guitarist Romy Madley Croft told Apple Music. “People were like, ‘Why is it so simple, and so minimal?’ They thought that maybe we were going for a really minimalist aesthetic, but we just wanted it to be exactly what was playable live.” The group—comprising schoolmates Romy Madley Croft, vocalist/bassist Oliver Sim, guitarist/keyboardist Baria Qureshi, and producer Jamie Smith (aka Jamie xx)—were just out of high school and still learning their instruments, after all. That simplistic approach ended up shaping The xx’s 2009 self-titled debut album—which earned them the coveted Mercury Prize—and their entire sound since. Trimming down to a trio (Qureshi left in late 2009), the band have kept that understated appeal. Madley Croft and Sim’s hushed harmonies still sound like lovers sharing their deepest apprehensions on wispy melodies like “Angels,” as Jamie xx’s ever-evolving beats have inched them closer to the dance floor with hypnotic singles, “On Hold” and “I Dare You.” Meanwhile, the group’s airy, atmospheric ambiance has seeped into indie, pop, and hip-hop, and even seduced the biggest stars on the planet, including Rihanna (who sampled “Intro”) and Drake (who would later re-envision Jamie xx’s Gil Scott-Heron remix of “I’ll Take Care of U”). Still, no one can replicate what The xx do best—stripping down intimacy to its absolute essentials: whispered sweet nothings, heart-throbbing beats, and echoes of all the ineffable spaces in between.

Wandsworth, London, England

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