“I’m happy—despite things that might have happened in my life,” she says.“The melancholy in our music has never been related to any of the deaths. to say that,” she told me, laughing.) At fourteen, she took up guitar, teaching herself with tablature off the Internet.
The new album was another collection of plaintive ballads, but the band, praised for its spare style, reduced its arrangements almost to nothing; some verses were just a single voice over the distant whistle of one of Smith’s samplers. charts, but failed to generate the critical acclaim of the first album.
Released in September, 2012, the album débuted at No. Some complained that it showed little musical advance over “xx” and suffered from an airless mood and fussy production—flaws that the band reluctantly acknowledges.
In late March, the xx, a band that ordinarily appears at ten-thousand-seat arenas, played a ten-night “residency” at the Park Avenue Armory, performing for just a few dozen people at a time.
Open to the public for fifty-five dollars a ticket, the shows also drew the musicians Beyoncé, Jay Z, and Madonna, as well as the filmmakers Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach.
If anything, it’s just that I quite like sad songs.” When her father had played records of sixties-era bands, she preferred the gloom of the Velvet Underground to the Beatles, whom she has never felt inclined to listen to closely. Inspired by the punkish band the Distillers, she played power chords with heavy distortion and sang like Brody Dalle, the raspy-voiced front woman.
“I did it for about a day,” she says, “and then realized I can’t sing like this.Sim, swaying his bass in the air, faced off with her, in a pantomime of confrontation and retreat that could have been a lovers’ quarrel or a taunting seduction.The mood of almost uncomfortable intimacy seemed to prevent performers and audience from acknowledging one another; the band didn’t speak a word between songs, and the spectators didn’t applaud.The mood persisted even when, halfway through the show, Madley Croft sang, “Can I make it better / with the lights turned on?,” and the fabric walls dropped away, revealing the Armory’s vast drill hall, an acre of stone and arching steel struts.I’m not Kurt Cobain.” Instead, she developed her soft contralto, and began plucking single notes to double the melody of her singing—the roots of the unembellished guitar patterns that are an xx signature.