I was really rooting for this, until I realized the album title alluded to, not post-disclosure human/alien love, but yucky, mopey, regular old hetero-loss of love. Ho Hum.The boy/girl vocals on Coexist take turns airing disengaged musings in real time. They never hear each other, which is a shame because they often say the same things. So much in fact, the occasional sentiment occurs in unison and we find their timbres match. This is by chance, an inadvertent by-product of having once been close, like ordering the same toppings on a pizza. Now besides the point, it becomes a futile agreement. Patterns of speech line up and everything is colloquial—from the language and brand of insight to their intonation, scantly more melodic than talking. This is all a modest allegory for the lyrical content: the mutual, yet distinct, grievance of the dissolution of a once sacred pact and the tragic irony in wanting and needing and saying something so parallel that acquiescence is impossible.
But unlike the pina colada song and its proto–M. Night Shymalan ending, Coexist does not feign resolution. Nothing mimics the arc of plot, yet it must be ingested as an album; individual songs do not fare well on their own. Formally resembling intros or transitions, they each walk the structural plank. It is fair to assume The XX would still be engaged in a Sisyphean cant of the first song they ever wrote if it weren’t for the fade-out and interrupted thought. So we read Coexist as a two-person, one-act play, Beckett does daytime, a downbeat one-liner. Narcotic basslines for the slo-mo club scene and reverb-laden guitars chime in with a bit of light, and it’s all somehow less punchy and more melodramatic than the widely acclaimed self-titled release of 2009. If it begs for supplement, it won’t be for long. We should all sit back and wait for the remixes to roll in or for a track to be placed over the moving pictures of another. Not that it isn’t pretty, but Coexist packs no punch of its own, just a reiteration of loss and confusion.
-from Agit Reader