Tiny Desk

The xx

The xx: Tiny Desk Concert

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/171475240/171475984" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

It's easy to think of The xx as a fashionable band: Its members have a sleek all-in-black look, its typography and cover art is coolly and distinctively styled, and the group itself has been showered with validation, including Britain's 2010 Mercury Prize. But beneath all that tightly controlled image-making lays music that's raw and vulnerable; shy, worried tentativeness is wired into a sound that shimmers powerfully, but remains as fragile and delicate as a soap bubble.

The xx's second album, Coexist, came out last fall, and it plays like a series of tensely lovely interludes, each building to a climax that never arrives. Plopped in front of Bob Boilen's desk and asked to play a few songs from the record, singer-guitarist Romy Madley Croft and singer-bassist Oliver Sim have reason to look slightly ill-at-ease: The setting and band configuration robs them of cover. No beats from member Jamie Smith, who opted to hang back at the hotel; no shroud of darkness or bright lights pointed outward to blunt the crowd's stares. Throughout their characteristically compact seven-minute performance, Croft and Sim avoid eye contact, as they visibly try to ignore the huge throng and cameras positioned maybe 10 feet away from them.

What comes out of their performance is not just beauty, but humanity — the sense that, in all of The xx's songs, all the calm chilliness in the world can't quite contain an exposed heart.

Set List

  • "Angels"
  • "Sunset"

Credits

Producer: Bob Boilen; Editor: Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Becky Lettenberger, Claire O'Neill, Maggie Starbard; photo by Gabriella Demczuk/NPR

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Julia Jacklin performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 1, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Julia Jacklin

A restrained, whisper-soft Tiny Desk concert from Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin with songs taken from her debut album Don't Let The Kids Win.

Troker performs at Tiny Desk Concert on April 5, 2017 (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero /NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero /NPR

Tiny Desk

Troker

Mexico may not be known for its jazz, but the young lions of Troker are a promising hope to make the country and its capital city a destination.

Tim Darcy performs at Tiny Desk Concert on April 21, 2017 (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero/NPR

Tiny Desk

Tim Darcy

Tim Darcy of Montreal band Ought brings his mysterious solo work, from the album Saturday Night, to the Tiny Desk. The record he says, was his chance to "get back to my roots, in my own voice."

Danilo Brito performs a Tiny Desk concert on April 10, 2017. (Ariel Zambelich/NPR) Ariel Zambelich/NPE hide caption

toggle caption Ariel Zambelich/NPE

Tiny Desk

Danilo Brito

Danilo Brito and his band brought their dextrous expression of choro music to the Tiny Desk, a long-established musical style that has its roots in the streets and backyards of Brito's native Brazil.

Aimee Mann performs at Tiny Desk Concert on Apr. 20, 2017 (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero /NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero /NPR

Tiny Desk

Aimee Mann

"This song is called 'You Never Loved Me' — it's another cheery, optimistic number," says Aimee Mann, introducing the second of four songs in this Tiny Desk Concert.

Peter Silberman performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Apr. 7, 2017. (Emily Bogle/NPR) Emily Bogle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Emily Bogle/NPR

Tiny Desk

Peter Silberman

A strange condition hushed the life of Peter Silberman, resulting in what may be the quietest Tiny Desk Concert ever.

Antonio Lizana performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Jan. 25, 2017. (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero/NPR

Tiny Desk

Antonio Lizana

The traditions of flamenco and jazz are disparate, but in the hands of a few Spanish jazz musicians, these two worlds commingle and find common ground.

Chicano Batman performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Mar., 30, 2017. (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero/NPR

Tiny Desk

Chicano Batman

Chicano Batman comes with a sound that perfectly captures dark lounges, quinceñera dances, car shows and backyard parties.

Ljova & Kontraband perform at Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 13th 2017. (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero/NPR

Tiny Desk

Ljova And The Kontraband

Composer, arranger and viola player Ljova lead his Kontraband to the Tiny Desk for an eclectic swirl of Western classical, jazz, tango and Eastern European and Balkan folk music.

Back To Top