Jamie xx - In Colour

by Shannon Smith

In Colour is truly an electronic masterpiece. From the house-inspired Gosh to the steel drum-enthused Obvs and then the surprising addition of I Know There’s Gonna Be – Jamie xx’s vision shines through in full HD Colour. The continuous flow of this album is pure musical perfection to this reviewer’s ears – and not one bum note in earshot. This is an essential for everyone’s summer playlist!

The opener Gosh will please long time electronic fans – from its deep bass undertone to the booming “Oh My Gosh” echoing throughout. As the first track of In Colour, Gosh sets into motion Jamie xx as a solo artist and can be used as just one of many examples highlighting his extraordinary range. This track pushes the listener into a form of musical escapism few artists can boast of producing. But Gosh is just the start of the journey Jamie xx takes us on…

Moving to Sleep Sound, the gentle chimes at start of the song shifts easefully into chill house. Sleep Sound hardly sends you into a blissful slumber, but acts as a sort of “ease” into Jamie xx’s visionary mind. At around the halfway point of the track, a melody of “oh’s” enters, along with the drum and gentle bass, creating the perfect chill, house-inspired song.

Seesaw is the first of two tracks featuring The xx bandmate Romy. The familiar paring will be joyous for not only fans of The xx, but also for new converts. The lyrics “Up and down like a seesaw with you” have a delightfully reminiscent way of drifting and merging with the backing track (similarly to The xx). The track continuously and effortlessly flows in such a natural way. The final echoes of “With you” lead into the work of genius of Obvs.

Obvs is a personal highlight of In Colour. From Jamie xx’s incorporation of the steel drums to the soothing melody that starts the song, this track leads you to dream of sunny beaches. Then he adds a chilled tapping and clapping effect which, along with the melodic “ah’s”, is heavenly. I was walking up Cardiac Hill thinking this – and if you have that effect on cardiac, you truly have created something special, Jamie xx.

Just Saying is a small interlude acting as the middle point of the album. Even though it’s just a 1:23 minute track, it should not be ignored by any means. This melodic barrier leads into the higher paced second half of the album, but maintains the chilled atmosphere of the first. Also, listen carefully for the Romy whispers!

The second half of this album starts strongly with Stranger In A Room. The lyrical delivery by Oliver Sim (another xx band mate) beautifully compliments Jamie’s classic sound. The haunting “Who” which Sim repeats to great effect has the ability to stick in ones mind and cements this track as a highlight of an extremely prodigious album.

Hold Tight starts with a tingle sound effect, slowly building up to the final few songs to come. The calls for “Cardiff crew, Bristol crew, Birmingham crew, London crew” acts an unexpected and jovial presence within Hold Tight.

Loud Places is the second and final song featuring Romy. The backing vocals calling out “I have never reached such highs” add a sort of higher presence to Romy’s voice. The clapping and the classic Jamie xx styling lend an otherworldly quality to Lord Places. The bittersweet yet joyful tone of the track is absolutely stunning. The final few bars add to this effect beautifully, creating yet another stroke of genius within this album.

I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) was the biggest surprise of In Colour. The old school tone in the Good Times, which ring out, start the song with such powerful impact. The lyrical deliveries of Young Thug and Popcaan throughout the track are on point. The rapping provided for by Young Thug, when met with Jamie xx’s bouncy backing tune, creates the perfect summer party track. It is the kind of song you can imagine pouring out of a house party – and therefore it achieves its “good times” aim. The final few bars of laugher add to this atmosphere to great effect.

The Rest Is Noise keeps up the high tempo undertone previously established by I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times). The mixture of the lone piano with the seemingly perfect percussion sound merges beautifully for the first half to create an awe-inspiring track. At the 1:49 mark, the clapping and higher piano enter, which adds yet another layer of sound. The added electronic/base undertone make this the song eargasmic. The musical present handed to us by Jamie xx is one few artists could create with such seamless and effortless effect.

In Colour concludes with Girl. Having heard this track before the rest of the album, it is important to note that it was this track which drew me under Jamie xx’s spell initially, and with good reason. Girl starts with the spoken phase of “There was this beautiful girl in Hackney,” dropping straight into the electronic beat. The echoes of “I want you bad” ring out through the final track, mirroring my own desire for more Jamie xx material. As the album closer, Girl has such as uplifting and lively tone it seemingly brings the listener out of their Jamie xx-induced daydream. The track is a stand-alone stunner, but as the finale to one of the best flowing albums I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to, it is exquisite.

If there is only one album you buy this year, I implore you to go for In Colour! It is perfection from the first beat to its last. I cannot find a singular fault with In Colour – not one. Jamie xx has crafted a masterpiece, a pure artist’s vision I have been privileged to listen to. Go on, immerse yourself in the musical world Jamie xx has created. Go on…