There's a popular - and sometimes maligned - adage that music can be more about the notes that aren't played. You may have also heard of "adding by subtracting." If there were more sayings and metaphors along these lines that came to mind, I would certainly pad out this post by listing them out as well.
xx, The xx's debut album, stands out for its relative simplicity and minimalism. With Romy Madley Croft on guitar, Oliver Sim on bass, and Jamie Smith doing electronic-keyboard-y stuff, many songs can easily be broken down into just a handful of distinct elements. "Intro," a relaxing instrumental track that I've already listened to at least a dozen times on loop, gets a lot of mileage out of simple guitar riffs, a drum machine, and some vague chanting towards the end. Other songs, like "Islands," have notable pockets of silence that follow up strings of light, whisper-like vocals from Croft and Sim.
My first exposure to anyone from this group came in the form of In Color, a solo effort by Smith and one of my favorite albums of the year. Given that In Color includes maximalist songs like "I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times)," it's interesting to listen to his more subdued contributions on xx. There are a lot of fun little flourishes buried in these songs, including some xylophone action on "VCR" and drum beats on "Heart Skipped a Beat" that do, in fact, sound like heartbeats.
There is a lot more to talk about with this album, but honestly, I kind of want to just keep listening to Intro. It's great!