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XO‘s debut album, ‘Heart’, is a clever mix of indie rock with ambient/post-rock elements that results in an infectious sound. The subtle hints of shoegaze make waves of difference in the end, as it combines with the band’s poignant style beautifully.
The album starts off with dreamy soundscapes and hazy, psychedelic grooves. The quick intro track, ‘Instrumental 2’, is a nice way to kick things off. ‘Waste’, is a more straightforward indie song with a slight surf rock vibe to it. From here the band continuously demonstrates their scope of sound. From light, breezy moments to upbeat, poppier tracks and more atmospheric, shoegaze-driven numbers, everything is pulled off with a natural flow.
Vocals are consistently laid back and soothing, and a perfect match-up for the instrumentation. They sit back a bit in the mix, almost-but-not-quite getting washed out during louder, more climactic moments. The use of backing vocals has been implemented well, creating harmonies reminiscent of the likes of The Beach Boys.
While the relaxing, ambient vibes are a success, some tracks do tend to fall a little flat. At times, the music simply drags along and there isn’t always an abundance of fresh ideas to keep things interesting. ‘Voice’ is one track in particular that barely seems to deviate from one idea for its duration.
However, this is mostly a very solid effort from XO. ‘Heart’ is an album that can appeal to a wide range of people, as well as making for a powerful relaxant.
For a debut album, a band could do much worse. While XO’s ‘Heart’ isn’t a perfect hybrid by any means, the mixture of shoegaze with indie pop/rock is so effective it’s like the genres were made for eachother. It falters at times, failing to keep things consistently interesting, but is still a commendable effort.
1. Instrumental 2