New Music: Jamie xx – In Colour

Jamie xx - In ColourJamie xxIn Colour //

4-BamsTop Track: “The Rest Is Noise”

Jamie Smith, better know as Jamie xx, likes to keep his sound tightly knit. As the brains behind his critically acclaimed band The xx and with his undeniably successful career as a solo producer and DJ, keeping his sound contained and tense seems to be the string tying his entire repertoire together. This, for better or worse, is no different than on his most recent — and first official — solo album In Colour.

As one of this year’s most anticipated albums, Smith demonstrates his expertise in his craft and makes it clear he won’t succumb to the seemingly endless demand of club anthems and rave bangers around these days. But that doesn’t make it any less fun; In Colour is a dance party inside a pressure cooker. The opening track “Gosh” introduces the key elements that make up Smith’s first solo release: polyrhythmic instrumentation and gorgeous major synth melodies layered under chopped and screwed samples of Londoners that call back to Jamie xx’s upbringing in the UK house and garage scene. The second half of “Gosh” features an ascent of a synth melody that ties together tension and release unlike something I’ve ever heard before. The hazy deep blue sound of “Sleep Sound” is comfortable and like its incredible music video, has a sense of innocence peppered within it.

Closing out the first part of In Colour with what may end up being the best three-song-run on an album this year, “Seesaw” introduces Romy as the album’s first guest. From the first few seconds, you can tell Smith took a chapter from the enigmatic UK producer Burial’s book, with a hyper-looped beat that races through the track, guiding Romy’s vocals alongside Smith’s familiar synth melodies. The album only grows from there with these few elements that work together like a complex mix of ingredients in a dish you’ve never tried before, yet still seems familiar.

In Colour may not be everyone’s favorite album this year, but no one can doubt the level of detail devoted to making every layer of every track as perfectly tuned as possible. I find myself returning to the album again and again while finding more and more to discover, which may be the very way Mr. Smith wanted us to experience it.

~Brett Ruffenach


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