WHEN the xx first appeared in 2009, details about the band were few and far between. Just a white X on a black background. The enigma surrounding them was part of the appeal, fitting in with their minimalist, stripped back sound. In the age of the Internet, social media and being able to find out anything about anyone within seconds, it was refreshing to feel intrigued about something. And that’s where they excel. Even now; eight years after their first release, there’s still an element of the unknown surrounding them.

Their brand new album I See You is the band’s first return to the fray since 2012’s Coexist. Clearly influenced by Jamie xx’s solo material, several songs from the new album wouldn’t feel out of place on 2015’s In Colour. Particularly first track Dangerous and single On Hold; both decidedly more upbeat tracks than what’s to be expected of the notoriously subdued trio, bringing the welcome return of Oliver Sim and Romy Madley-Croft’s vocals over this new era of XX electronica.

Despite this shift in production, there’s still aspects of the band’s classic, atmospheric sound. Singles Say Something Loving and I Dare You are a return to the their measured, sensual brand of love songs for the twenty-first century, with Sim and Madley-Croft duetting over synths and trademark pared down guitar. Stripped back performance showcases Madley-Croft’s vocals perfectly, giving her the almost-ballad she deserves, heartbreaking down to the final strings. Replica is yet another stunning yet downbeat and moody track that despite being in their wheelhouse, sounds like something completely different and fresh, echoed by the track’s lyrics; “feels like this song’s already been sung.” For a band who emerged with an extremely distinctive sound, feel and image (or lack thereof), it could have been difficult to go forward. Often, it takes acts a while to settle into themselves and decide who they are whereas The xx had the complete opposite of this dilemma. They already knew who they were, what they were doing and what they wanted to be. What they could’ve struggled with is how to continue this streak, especially when it seemed like everyone was cashing in on their low-key bedroom sound and trying to do what they do so effortlessly. With this third album, they’ve cemented themselves as not only one of the most influential and important bands of the new millennium, but one of the most consistent. It’s an album that sticks to their signature sound, but is in no way derivative. We may know more about them, but thanks to their less is more approach, we still feel like there’s so much more to hear.