Islands

Album: The xx (2009)
Charted: 34

Songfacts®:

  • This is a track from English indie rock band, The xx's self-titled debut album.
  • Singer Romy told The Sun October 30, 2009: "I love 'Islands' because I found it quite hard to write something more upbeat and light-hearted. We were into this calypso drumming beat and asked Jamie [beats/production] if he could help with those sort of sounds like bongos. That's what makes that song so special."
  • Vocalist Romy Madley Croft and bassist Oliver Sim, who first met at nursery school, are the band's joint lyricists and this track about finding "the one," the person you want to spend the rest of your life is typical of the love songs they write together. Romy explained in the January 2010 edition of Clash magazine the difficulties of writing a love song with her oldest friend: "We write our lyrics completely separately, so we are never really addressing each other when we are singing. Ollie is my oldest friend and they are pretty much love songs so it'd be pretty weird, pouring our hearts out and directing it at each other. We both write at home, have our privacy and then send each other our lyrics over the Internet; it's quite a removed thing where we don't need to explain too deeply what they mean. We can just react in our own way to each other's lyrics. I do write a lot at home at night, locked away, hidden away and I shut myself off for quite a long time just writing so I think there's a theme to this isolation I am sure."
  • Romy explained the band's name to BBC's Newsbeat: "Me and Oliver were sitting typing on Word. And I was like 'I like X's, I really like X's'. I just thought it was aesthetically pleasing. X is a really nice symbol. People always laugh at me picking out X's in like shadows and train bridges."
  • Latin superstar Shakira covered this song on her 2010 album, Sale el Sol. It was speculated that she would record the song under the name "Explore" but her version of the song was later included on the album under its original name.
  • The self-titled long player won the 2010 Mercury Music Prize, awarded to the best album of the year by a British artist. Simon Firth, chairman of the Mercury Prize judging panel explained why they went for the XX's disc: "It's one of those records that picked up the mood of the moment. Also, it's an incredibly coherent album that uses space in a special way."

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