the xx

The pizzicato guitar, nearly whispered vocals, and barely audible synthesizer hum of the xx's "Islands" wouldn't be so sexy and mysterious if it weren't for the evident influence of contemporary R&B on the male-female singers—they sound like Flin Flon, the Evens, or some other minimalist guitar band covering D'Angelo's "Brown Sugar." And because R&B is so rare an echo in indie rock, the hype around these kids might stir inevitable backlash: Where was this consensus when recent alternative soul albums from Q-Tip, Mint Condition, and De La Soul came along? Still, the xx are reportedly 19, which makes all of the above classic rock to them. Early Aaliyah (whom they've covered) is now as distant from their London present tense as the early Cure, to whom their debut, xx (on XL Recordings), has been compared. With Friendly Fires. 18+ (Photo by Stefano Masselli)
Mon., Nov. 30, 9 p.m., 2009

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