Romy – MID AIR – review

Singer and guitarist XX makes her solo debut with Fred Again…

Review written on September 13, 2023 by user

Gianni Sibylla

Recently there has been a debate in the English press and social media about Fred Gibson, or “Fred Again…”: from a producer and author (including Ed Sheeran), he quickly turned into a star in his own right. Yes, partly due to his alliance with Skrillex and Four Tet (sold out Madison Square Garden in a few hours, headlining Coachella), partly due to the very warm (and slightly over-the-top) social interactions, but most of all because of his music : a hybrid of electronic and pop music, with a peculiar use of voice samples and motivational phrases. Last week he took a chance on winning the Mercury Prize and sold out Alexandra Palace, a historic London venue that seats more than 10,000 people, five times.

This long preamble is meant to say that if you listen to the solo debut of Romy, singer and guitarist of XX, and it reminds you more of Fred Agina than his band, it’s not a coincidence: Gibson co-produced a good part. of 11 tracks, considering that they have been working together for 5 years, since Romy Madley Croft limited herself to being a writer and DJ outside the group. Electronic music, but with emotion, which emphasizes vulnerability rather than the narrative stereotypes of dance music. From this point of view, in some passages, “In the Air” risks sounding a little like a self-motivation manual set to music: “You don’t have to be so strong,” “Enjoy your life,” and so on.

But otherwise, Romy’s approach is very different from Gibson’s: much more reserved, with a certain reserve that makes her unique on the pop dance scene. To say, by his own admission, it took him a long time to decide to use female pronouns in his songs: “Loveher” is almost touching from this point of view with his voice, which begins to recite, asking to turn up the volume. , almost as if asking permission.
Another reference to the album is the classic pop dance of the late 90s and early 2000s: here, among other things, there is the hand of Stuart Price, who produced “Confessions on the dancefloor” by Madonna and the Pet Shop Boys.

Nothing particularly new, but well executed – in places very reminiscent of “Missing” and “Temperamental” by Everything But The Girl.

“Mid air” is the last solo album of the three released XX: if Jamie gained authority as a producer, if Oliver Sims with “Hideous Bastards” aimed at the pop-theatrical dimension, Romy again goes somewhere else: the result is a good album, sincere and credible, showing his life outside the group. However, XX will soon return: they have been away from the scene for too long.

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