This is a review of "Low" recorded by Xi. The review was written by Nick Kearns in 2005.
“Five men, a large number of instruments” proclaims the press release accompanying Xi’s latest magnum opus, the three track EP “Low”. Interestingly enough, said press blurb also highlights one of the quintet’s achievements as winning over a Bon Jovi tribute act’s crowd, as well as supporting Barnsley uber-metallers Saxon. Can’t argue with that. Steve Whitfield of Cure fame and Bruce Wood of Touchwood Studios engineer and produce respectively.
Title track “Low” introduces itself with aplomb, its guitar-orientated intro giving way to a yearning Matt Bellamy-esque vocal underpinned by cantankerous yet solid drumming. A “large number of instruments” are indeed apparent with some interesting synthesised squelches and chiming arpeggios giving the songs some extra depth. To the band (and producers) credit though the multiplicity of sounds never “swamp” the songs but are layered well enough to add a smart level of sophistication, rather like the aural equivalent of a Hamlet cigar.
Second track “Under My Feet” features a guest female vocal, the introduction of which at the start lends the song a kind of soulful 1930’s New Orleans feel, albeit one that is juxtaposed with some furious drum and bass style drum-twatting. The song develops a more mainstream approach as it progresses into the bridge and chorus, with a vocal line slightly reminiscent of James Dean Bradfield and a catchy chord progression, all of which makes for a hugely entertaining listen. Last track “Rebel Yell” is a cover of a Billy Idol song, which in theory should be as successful as a candlelit dinner between Bernard Manning and Germaine Greer, however the song possesses more than enough balls and punked-up finesse to ensure repeated plays.
Well produced, well played and well worth a listen, this EP is recommended to anyone who likes their guitar music quirky but with a mainstream edge. As Xi appear to be gigging on a constant basis for the seemingly foreseeable future why not check them out live as well?