After teasing fans with mysterious clips on their Spotify page, The xx have officially returned today with a stunning new single and an album on the way. During their 3 year hiatus, die-hard fans (myself included) could take solace in In Colour, the debut solo outing from Jamie xx, the trio’s masterful producer. On that project, Jamie got a chance to depart from the somber sound of his band delving deeper into the elements of dance music he had already subtly showcased on The xx’s first two albums. With the help of an incredible Idris Muhammad sample, Jamie xx and bandmate Romy Croft crafted one of 2015’s best songs with “Loud Places,” which held a triumphant, uplifting vibe unlike anything we’d heard from the group.
As I speculated and waited for new music, I couldn’t help but wonder how Jamie’s ‘colour’ might impact The xx’s 3rd album. Today we get the answer with “On Hold”–the perfect marriage between The xx’s heart-wrenching aura and Jamie’s matured sound. While the song features complex, 4×4 percussion, Jamie employs filters and dramatic pads to make room for his bandmates’ signature reverb-ed guitar and heart breaking vocals. As the song approaches its most stark moment, the chorus erupts with an irresistible Hall & Oates sample that oozes pure joy.
At it’s core “On Hold” tells the tale of letting someone go and the disappointment of them moving on, but its potent chorus offers a light at the end of the tunnel–one that was just flickering on their last album, Coexist.
I See You, the third studio album from The xx, is out on January 13th via Young Turks–you can pre-order it here. We’ll have this one on repeat while we wait.