Straight up: we aren’t even sure if we’ve got the cool cred to hold this record in our grubby little mitts. We’re half-tempted to write something about a Jean Michele Jarre collection, but we suppose we’ll get over our unworthiness to share a few thoughts. In much the same way as The xx surprised us all with such an accessible and intriguingly minimal suite of songs, so too has Jamie xx delivered in his debut solo LP, In Colour.
One thing Jamie xx manages to do without fail is produce some of the most beautiful urban-influenced electronica of recent years (post-dubstep if we’re being fancy). Along with other class acts in the genre – like Burial, James Blake and Four Tet – Mr xx is paving the way for the rise of British underground music with serious skill.
The record also proves to be a masterclass in curation. Bass-heavy opener Gosh leads into a well-edited album version of Sleep Sound, and fellow EP release Girl fits right on in with a carefully-crafted selection of impressively diverse tracks. There’s a strong balance of the subdued alongside absolute belters, as our emotional response to both Girl and The Rest Is Noise will attest to.
The album edits are quite a bit shorter than the full-length mixes found on the EPs. But “there’s not enough of it” really is the only criticism we can find on an album which has clearly made efforts to be accessible, without compromising an inch on quality; not an ounce of harmonious musicality has been overlooked.
Stranger in a Room dishes up some of those all familiar xx vocals, with bandmate Romy Madley-Croft making an appearance on the positively soulful and uplifting Loud Places. This is a disco anthem like you’ve never heard before, and probably the standout track to lure you in to this delicious world of glorious noise, where even the more mainstream-sounding Good Times is embraced by its neighbouring tracks.
The intricacies of Jamie xx’s talent are most evident on Hold Tight, where industrial sounds are interspersed with a gentle sampling of snippets that that so readily blend into the background of our everyday lives; sirens, conversations, the hum of the city. Sound-bites of reminiscent ravers only add to the beautiful sense of respect and celebration Jamie xx’s music has for the UK’s multicultural night-life traditions throughout the decades.
While it might be best suited to the chroma of this country’s after-dark activity, In Colour is still one of the finest illustrations we have of homegrown influences turning into international sounds. More to the point: it’s just bloody exciting music, and a record that should stand luminous in an already-kaleidoscopic career.
In Colour by Jamie xx can be ordered here.