It is no coincidence that xx ends with songs called "Night Time" and "Stars".Although the album received good reviews, the bigger boys in the media didn't get The xx straight away.The band's melancholic songs, with lyrics about loneliness, lust and love, have struck a chord in Britain in particular, providing the perfect soundtrack to our troubled times.

"A teacher from Elliott who had never even taught us said how great we were. We were left alone, more than anything - although I'm sure that helped us in its own way." After leaving school, they signed to a small indie label, Young Turks, which had the financial backing of XL Recordings, home to Radiohead and the White Stripes.

Unusually for a new group starting out in the modern record industry, the band was given time and space to develop.

Instead, they have worked their way into our collective consciousness by inventing an urban sound that unites the emotions of indie rock with the drama of dance music. ' We made this record for ourselves - to try to make music that all of us would like." Perhaps their success is due to the way their combined influences tick a range of critical boxes - or, less cynically, maybe the mood of intimacy and familiarity they inspire is something that people crave, especially in a world bombarded with 24-hour content.

Madley Croft is astonished at the acclaim they have received. With the music industry dominated by sons and daughters of rock's aristocracy and by privately educated musicians (according to a recent survey by magazine, 60 per cent of acts that charted during one week in October had been to public school), it is refreshing that The xx come from very ordinary backgrounds.

Tonight, The xx are home to do something deeply un-rock'n'roll: turn on the local Christmas lights.

"They probably wanted Barbara Windsor, didn't they?

What is striking about these three, whom I first met 18 months ago, is how humble they have remained throughout their rapid ascent.

Even now, where others in their position would happily put themselves forward as spokespeople for this or that issue, The xx are characteristically reticent.

She smiles shyly under her severe, triangular fringe and explains that they are here because they owe it to Putney.