Jamie XX has been quickly forging an impressive solo career during his days off from world dominating indie-electronic band The XX. Serving as the bands producer, he helped form the bands sound. Drawing influences from the moodier sections of R&B and dubstep, The XX create music suited to the end of a night of partying, during the early reflective hours. So maybe spending too much time with the downbeat soundscapes of The XX left Jamie with the urge to create bright primary coloured music. Simply put: if The XX make music to wind down from the party, Jamie XX’s debut album ‘In Colour‘ is certainly the party.
After dropping the stunning collaborative album with the legend that is Gil Scott Heron: ‘We’re New Here‘, Jamie XX focuses his attention in a more garage/house direction. Kicking off with the mc assisted ‘Gosh‘, the track is drums, a rattling bassline and some claps. Fit it in on any old school garage set, politely stating its intent as a solid head nodder. Until that is the second half. The bassline grows and grows until the track transforms into something much brighter.
During the course of the album a mood is maintained, overall lighter than the work he is known for, but not simply so. The sound is explored in various aspects from the ‘housey’ ‘Sleep Sound‘ to the surprising ‘Obvs‘. Surprising as the song doesn’t just rest on its laurels and use the steel drums, which would be easy because steel drums make everything better. Instead the track delves deeper with each verse, growing in mood, whilst the main melody remains as a contrast.
Culminating in the subtly anthemic ‘I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)‘ featuring the inspired paring of dancehall artist Popcaan and Young Thug. The sparse sounds are the perfect backing for Young Thug’s nonsensical flow, which results in the best use of Young Thug in a long time. With Popcaan’s laidback chorus grounding the track.
Despite the lighter tone of the album there are relatively downbeat moments, but even then there is a balance; each track never committing fully to one mood. If the opening moments suggest a heavier mood the drums will contribute to the track having a livelier feel, and vice versa.
Jamie XX finds the a level of balance, creating an album that on the surface is a fun dance album, but what lies beneath is a deceptively complex and layered album that serves as a strong statement of just how inventive dance music can be without being pretentious or showy. ‘In Colour‘ is a fantastic album that will bring many new fans to the genre.