With “On Hold,” the lead single off I See You, The xx have done the unthinkable: released a dance track. While the album itself is influenced by dance, no track feels more geared for the dance floor than this, leaving an odd, though not entirely unwelcome, taste in the mouth.
Influenced by dance are the keywords here because I See You isn’t a dance record. “On Hold” however, begs to differ as it swings onto the club scene, held together by an infectious use of a Hall & Oates sample. While the song does open in typical xx style with the wispy voices of Romy and Sim lamenting a doomed relationship, the sample swiftly destroys any notion that this is a typical xx track. One could even be forgiven for mistaking this as a track by Jamie xx as the signature minimalist pop of The xx plays second fiddle to the sample.
Even the supposed chorus of the track – sung by Sim – appears almost as an imposter next to the pitched vocals of Hall & Oates. While “On Hold” does make more sense in the context of I See You, it still comes off as the odd one out even among the more dance-influenced tracks of The xx. Make no mistake however, this a song by The xx: it’s simply a new sound for a new era in the band’s career and though there may be some that are hesitant about this new sound, I urge them to give it a chance.
After all, even The xx, for all their melancholy, need to cut loose now and again. So while you may find that the typical melancholic lyrics of “On Hold” are wanting in comparison to other xx tracks, you can’t really fault the track for being what it is: an immensely catchy lead single.
Listen to the track here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_oA9UmRd4I
I See You can also be found in full on Spotify.