Music for Men
By David Chiu
Two up-and-coming bands—one from the UK, the other from Olympia, Washington.
Fronted by the vocals of Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft, the xx is a British four-piece band who were recently here in New York for CMJ. Their sound can be best described as ethereal yet minimalist electropop music with some ‘60s-sounding guitar playing. While the mood is chilly and distant throughout the debut, the xx’s music isn’t without humanity and soul, especially on tunes like “VCR” and the standout “Shelter.” There is also a romantic and sexy quality to the music such as on the uptempo “Crystalised” and the groove-minded and cerebral “Infinity.” Along with the instrumentation, the dual vocals of Sim and Croft add to the dream-like nature of the music and the lyrical sense of yearning. Call xx thinking person’s electropop.
On the opposite end Gossip, whose focal point is singer Beth Ditto, is a bit more musically eclectic and brighter-sounding, especially on Music For Men. For both indie rock and commercial pop fans Music for Men has something for everyone: very infectious dance tunes in Men in Love” and “Love Long Distance,” and the aggressive rock of “2012” and “8th Wonder.” For her part Ditto is an amazing singer whose commanding and soulful voice brings some grit and drama that fits so well with the emotional lyrics. If anything, Gossip’s music is feisty and edgy compared to most cookie-cutter pop.