Test Me – The xx

The last track of an album, much like the first, can make or break a listening experience, and “Test Me” is certainly a strong and memorable finish.

You can tell immediately what kind of song this will be, by the ballad-like music and hushed vocals. It is a quieter song to part with. A gorgeously simple mixture of piano keys and synths, combined with the soft low vocals, creates a solemnly beautiful atmosphere. The tempo increases with tension near the end of the song, but the soul of the track is never overwhelmed by the rising electronic music.

The lyrics express a failing or on-and-off relationship that may be coming to an end, one that is unwanted, but inevitable. The words themselves are pain-filled, and Romy and Oliver’s voices are brimming with a mixture of regret and frustration fueled by a lack of knowing where things are going. Doing things in the moment is easier than taking time to work it through; you don’t have to think or feel and you don’t go through pain until after it’s already over. One alternative meaning for this song could be as a metaphor for fears of the band splitting apart, in part due to Jamie xx’s flourishing solo career.

This song is definitely a heartstrings-puller, and will speak strongest to those who have been in unsteady partnerships. Even those who haven’t, are coaxed into recalling a time where they’ve been unsure of the relationships in their lives. “Test Me” may be a song about unsurety, but there is no unsurety in placing it as one of the most emotionally real tracks on the album, and a perfect place to end.

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