The xx (music group)

London trio returns to town with more sophisticated second album

When the xx first got together in 2005, they were still in high school. Their 2009 self-titled debut folded dreamy, downtempo grooves with soulful vocals, particularly those of Romy Madley Croft, who often evoked the same sort of emotional tension as Beth Gibbons. The album was endlessly praised by critics and fans, and the teenagers set about touring the world, winning over even more fans with energetic shows that integrated innovative light design and changed from night to night.

Before embarking on a follow-up, the band wisely took time to let it all sink in, stay in one place for a while, approach things slowly. The result is another gem, Coexist,...