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The Boston Globe

Music

Music Review

The xx bring understated power to House of Blues

On record, the xx have a flair for getting power out of understatement. But it’s difficult to keep things subdued when a packed room at the House of Blues immediately begins screaming along to your first song, as was the case Thursday night. From the moment co-vocalist/guitarist Romy Madley Croft began the opening notes of “Angels,” an ethereal highlight from the band’s new record “Coexist,” there was a sense that the xx is bigger than its three members and sparse arrangements.

Take the sprawling laboratory of drums, drum machines, and samplers helmed by producer/composer Jamie Smith. Positioned behind Croft and co-vocalist/bassist Oliver Sim, Smith navigated his three stations, making it more apparent than ever that it’s he who gives each track its individual flavor and force. For tracks from their debut, that flavor is not always what’s expected — Smith often manipulates his old productions, playing with tempos, drops, and pauses. As Croft and Sim launched into the trio’s 2009 hit “Crystalised,” he held off the beat, finally letting it tumble in halfway through (to much fanfare).

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