In Colour by Jamie xx
The mental storing of music-related material is a common trend among those who claim music as their ultimate passion. Topics of these cerebral lists often include much anticipated album release dates, up coming concerts, record stores to attend and most importantly the constant red carpet list; a sort of compilation of artists they deem promising or proven enough to continuously be given a listen.
It’s not a particularly hard list to get on, but, much like the Hollywood red carpet itself, it’s difficult to stay there.
Since his 2012 debut as 1/3 of the UK indie-pop outfit The XX, Jamie xx has been staple on this list for many a music fan.
His remarkable remix album We’re New Here, comprised of reimagined Gil Scott-Heron tracks, coupled with his steady touring schedule have kept anticipation high for his first full length venture In Colour, released on May 29th.
Critics and fans met the record’s first single “Sleep Sound” with a renewed interest. The song was discussed and debated until the release of subsequent single and introductory track “Gosh”.
“Gosh” opens with a steady delivery of great vocal samples planted deeply in a medley of house beats that are both creative and familiar; the exact technique and style that has made Jamie xx an artist worth reviewing.
Electing to avoid the popular trap-stylings of the day, Jamie builds the song to an ambitious finish that provides a promising start to the record. The second track “Sleep Sound” features song-writing credits by a list of writers, most notably Alicia Keys. Keys’ vocal talents are under used on “Sleep Sound”. However, the song does well in spite of this shortcoming and carries on where title track left off.
“Sleep Sound” retains a catchy hip-hop inspired break-beat to transition in to “See Saw”. This is the first time we hear The XX band mate Romy on In Colour, who provides her brand of dreamy, effortless (at times too effortless) vocals to the track. Romy does little to stand out, causing the song to sound much like a sub-par The XX track, something both band members should have been quick to avoid.
As the record moves forward, it becomes clear that the tracks Jamie xx writes himself provide the biggest setback; “Hold Tight”, “Just Saying” and “The Rest is Noise” are all low points that prove Jamie is at his creative best when working with other artists.
A notion we quickly learn is not an altogether bad thing, on the track “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) featuring sexually ambiguous, Atlanta based “rap weirdo” Young Thug; a collaboration that brings the latter half of the album to life. The sample of The Persuasions 1972 acapella hit “Good Times” is the highlight of the entire album. Young Thug’s performance on the track is smooth and shockingly articulate compared with much of his other work (trust me).
In Colour closes strongly, finishing on a high with emphasis on the record’s finer points; the closing track “Girl” is a melodic house music treat which shows off Jamie’s depth of sampling prowess once again, borrowing a cheeky sample from UK hit “I.O.U” by Freeez.
In Colour proves that Jamie xx deserves a spot on that imaginary red carpet list. He delivers through the use of melodic structures, sampling styles and most notably creative and original collaborative choices.
His lone efforts on the album mark low points, points that are quickly redeemed by stand out tracks like “Gosh” “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” and “Girl”.
In Colour deserves an emphatic 8/10.
I am confident that Jamie xx will continue to impress other artists with his creativity, artists whom he can spend more time with in studio, ultimately delivering even more of those good times.
Jordan Chevalier Jordan can be reached at email@example.com (yes, Hotmail). Follow Jordan on Twitter at @Jcheval and read his contributions for Step On Magazine at @StepOnMagTO; he also welcomes submissions of all shapes and sizes for publication on his poetry blog SYNAPSE.