The xx “Chained”

Few sounds in modern-day pop are as intoxicating to the earbudded dome as the whisper-quiet intensity conjured by voices of Oliver Sims and Romy Madley-Croft circling around eachother to Jamie Smith’s sparse, goth-gloom concoctions, so it’s all kind of fantastic that “Chained”, the second preview of The xx’ highly anticipated Coexist following on-line insta-smash “Angels”, would find the trio working within this stylistic angle once more.

Melting into the roles of two once-happy lovers now on the verge of a break-up, Sims and Madley-Croft orbit eachother like two planets in the dark, lonely reaches of deep space, playing out a couples therapy session in which they try to figure out what went wrong to turn their romance so sour.

As churning bass, liquefied keyboards and the engaging trickle of an off-beat kick drum toil beneath them, needling inquiries are tossed about (“Did I hold you too tight?/ Did I not let enough light in?”), thoughts of infidelity are questioned, and cold-hearted wishes for death (“I watched you breathe in/ And I wished you’d stop/ Only for long enough…”) are shot, hinting of the dysfunction that’s pulled them apart; but as much of the devastatingly wistful chorus line “We used to be closer than this” aims to project a love slowly crumbling away in a hopeless place, the cool alignment of their voices here manages to still simmer with the burn of a sexual chemistry that hasn’t been completely lost.

Hear the track below, then check out some early highlights of the bajillion “Chained” remixes to come.