Listen, The xx are people, too. Yeah, they seem overly morose and make austere, sad tunes that got you through some rough times in college, but they have their own needs and desires. And it’s not easy to be on tour—and that’s why their mix, “The xx: on the road,” is such a revelatory look into what the trio listens to throughout the good times and the bad, after the excellent shows and after the depressing gigs that bum everyone out. (If you’ve been in a band, you understand this despair.) Creating the perfect sonic zone is the key to surviving the drives between shows with your sanity intact, and this mix definitely conjures some vivid vibes.
“The xx: on the road” opens with a song of their own: “I Dare You,” a track that signifies confidence and, as a precursor to their favorite jams, serves as a testament to the band’s search for meaning in the musical world. It is pretty cool to see Iggy Pop’s (Bowie-produced) “Nightclubbing” and Kate Bush’s “Cloudbusting” on here, and it’s easy to hear how the slow-motion darkness of those songs has affected The xx over the course of their career. But while it’s not surprising to learn they enjoy grooving to Talking Heads and Dinosaur, it requires a little more imagination to visualize them getting jiggy to Missy Elliott and Usher.
Overall, all of these tracks elicit a pretty relaxed vibe; there’s no noise music, no metal, no jazz, no classical, nothing too avant-garde. This isn’t music for pregaming a monumental event or for shotgunning beers. This is some serious, chill-the-fuck-out music. And it totally makes sense coming from The xx.