The xx are one of my favorite bands. The trio from the U.K. create subdued Indie pop that blends electronic music and dream pop brilliantly. I have been hooked on the band ever since I heard their debut album. While looking back through my collection, I discovered a song from their early period that had been lost in the shuffle: The xx song “Insects.”
Released in 2009, the song’s parent album xx is an extraordinary collection. The minimalism of the vocals and music exudes unique intimacy. Songs like “VCR” and “Crystallized” are constants in my listening rotation (even after dozens of listens to the album). The band’s striped-down tone especially translates to the instrumental track “Intro” and the otherworldly “Fantasy.”
Some of this tone carried over to their second album, Coexist. The record was an extension of xx, although none of the songs have resonated with me quite as much. Their third album, I See You, is a gentle departure from both records. Released in 2017, I See You has a more upbeat tone that fleshes out a more dynamic and pop-friendly sound than either of its predecessors.
Even though I like the two follow-ups, both I See You and Coexist primarily make me want to listen to the first record again. When I was digging through deep cuts from their early period, I found “Insects.” The song was released as a part of a five-song xx bonus CD.
The instrumental part of the song stood out to me on the first listen. A subdued guitar and bass hook in the opening sections of the song instantly drew me in. Oliver Sim and Romy Croft trade vocals with the same intimacy that makes xx a great record. “Insects” was the “new” xx track I was looking for.
The two-minute, 30-second tracks fits in well with their early sound: mellow vocals and emotional lyrics backed by really cool indie pop. Even though “Insects” is from the same time period as the debut album, it feels new to me and fills my desire for more of the same type of music from the band.
The YouTube clip below is the best quality version of “Insects” that I could find online. The album version of “Insects” has an 18-second instrumental that precedes Sim and Croft’s vocals.
This is the first post in a recurring series from the Flat Circle. Every Monday the Flat Circle will feature a new song, deep cut, or live track from my personal collection or travels on the Internet.