“Angels” is a song by English indie pop group The xx, released as a digital download on 17 July 2012 by Young Turks. It was the lead single for their 2012 album Coexist. The song was written by guitarist Romy Madley Croft, bassist Oliver Sim, and percussionist Jamie xx, who also produced it.
The xx premiered the song on 14 May 2012 at their first live show since touring in 2010. Upon its release, “Angels” received positive reviews from music critics, who commended Croft’s performance and the song’s minimalist musical style. The song was remixed by electronic musician Four Tet, whose version was aired on BBC Radio on 19 September.
“Angels” is a sparsely-produced, gentle ballad about the idea of being in love. It has a measured pace and features slight vocals and whispered cadences by Croft, background baritone bass, subtle drum thuds, and coiling guitar lines. Pitchfork Media’s Larry Fitzmaurice observes on the song “lots of hollow space surrounding [that] add[s] intimacy.””Angels” opens with echoey guitar and Romy’s vocals, which are at the front of the mix. Eerie snare rolls appear within a minute of the song, but quickly fade away. Arnold Pan of PopMatters writes that, in the context of Coexist, the song has its “own sense of development” and “resolution”.
Oliver Sim said of this moment of tension in the song, “Early on, Jamie said something about the album being inspired by dance music, so everyone’s expecting a house beat to drop halfway through—which is hilarious because this is not a dance record.”Croft’s transparent lyrics express lovesick emotion, adoration, and private knowledge acquired from intimacy: “You move through the room / Like breathing was easy / If someone believed me / They would be as in love with you as I am”. They also compare a relationship that ended prematurely to “dreaming of angels, and leaving without them”.Her repetition of “love” in the song’s chorus expresses the depth and intensity of the narrator’s feeling. Priya Elan of NME opines that she repeats the word “like she’s been sucker-punched by the sheer intensity of her heart-shaped feeling. She’s revelling in the joy of it, but also realising the utter failure of the simple four-letter word to express the depth of what she’s experiencing.” Croft said that the song is “very positive lyrically” and that its album “goes through a few different stages, and this would be the lightest.” Puja Patel of Spin characterizes its subject matter as “loverlorn” and observes a balance “between honest[y], gut-wrenching desire and stalker-like idolization”.
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