The xx member simultaneously pays homage and finds his own path in this paean to dance music
Jamie xx’s paean to dance music is the soundtrack to the summer (as Limmy might put it), possibly whether you like it or not. His judicious debut album has an effortless charm that is both elegant and clever, with nods to different genres without being too overbearing, and a studious but heartfelt attempt to pinpoint what dance music means to him. As a bellwether, what In Colour lacks in daring it makes up for in accessibility, beauty and smarts.
In essence, In Colour is like something made by Burial’s optimistic twin. It has a similar appreciation of bass music and culture – including snippets of mixtape dialogue – but looks at the world with a more upbeat slant. Instead of the ornate isolation and ethereal gloom of Burial, Jamie xx – aka Jamie Smith – delivers the flip side, a positive, twinkling togetherness that is neither cloying nor sentimental, but a kind of measured millennial euphoria. This is perfectly evinced in ‘Loud Places’, the album’s beguiling lead-off single featuring The xx bandmate Romy on vocals, an unabashed festival anthem with its delightfully ecstatic singalong chorus. Equally buoyant is its successor ‘I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times)’, a lollygagging slice of sunkissed R&B.
There is a clear strive for authenticity here on Smith’s part. The charged low-end rumble of opener 'Gosh' with its air-raid siren synths and sampled MCs is the kind of conscious yet finespun hat-tip to his predecessors that Smith has excelled in, as is the melodious thrill of 'Sleep Sound'. Elsewhere 'Stranger In A Room', with bandmate Oliver Sims and Obvs, with its hypnotic steel drums, acknowledge Smith’s role in somnambulant pop makers The xx.
There is a hint that In Colour is a bit too refined, a studied exercise in musical glad-handing that will cause some listeners to bristle. But even with this considered approach Jamie xx has shown that he can simultaneously pay homage, and find his own path.
Out Mon 1 Jun on Young Turks.