By no means a new album, but one that has strangely never received a review, X is Y’s LP has a stripped-down sound that is smoothed over thanks to it’s use of vocal harmonies and the interplay of all three members’ voices. The hushed tones of album opener ‘Shoulder’ immediately make one think of the most tender of Elliot Smith records, while the interesting drum-fills and wandering guitar lines take the song in a different direction entirely. ‘Pretty Blond’ sees the band let it all hang out - sing-along chorus, hand-claps and all! It has been a crowd favourite in their live sets, and it’s easy to hear why.
From simply listening to the record, those who have not seen the band live may find it more difficult to appreciate the tension and feeling that they transmit on stage. X is Y are an extremely talented band that put everything into their music. I hear that they are extremely particular and meticulous when it comes to recording, and this attention to detail is something that clearly comes across on this record – it is a labour of love, and a fine first release.
This album is a great listen and achieves moments of sublime invention, such as the long, drawn-out crescendo that erupts during the last couple of minutes of ‘Loved’. That said, it will be interesting to hear whether or not their sound has developed to include more diverse rhythmic elements, tempo changes and lyrical themes - this record has a very recognisable sound to it, which might not be entirely to it’s credit.
With a set of new songs already recorded for a split CD with their fellow Shanghai stalwarts Boys Climbing Ropes set to be released soon, Guillamue (guitar/vocals), Fabien (drums/vocals) and Yajing (bass/vocals) have a busy time ahead of them.
X is Y are one of a number of Shanghai bands that are working hard to develop a distinctive sound and contribute to a flourishing scene, populated by talented, innovative musicians.
The LP is downloadable for free and in high quality at this address: xisy.bandcamp.com