In Colour is a great title for the debut record by producer Jamie xx. It’s crisp, tight, brimming with hues, shapes, and various shades of light. It doesn’t feel like a producer showing his programming chops off. It’s not a Mark Ronson-like spectacle where Jamie xx is bringing in all of the famous pals he knows to sing hooks and earworms on his carefully constructed club bangers. In Colour feels like a personal record, and one that great attention to detail was put into each beat and aural stroke. It’s at times joyously enlightened and achingly beautiful. It’s pretty much everything you need to soundtrack your life.
I’ll admit I’m not much of a fan of The xx. I can appreciate the songs and the production, for sure. But there’s something too fragile about those songs. Romy and Oliver Sim’s back and forth vocals and simple guitar and bass lines to me feel like walking in on some heavy conversation. I get some people like that kind of intimacy with their cup of melancholy, but not me. One thing I did really appreciate about those xx records was the production. Jamie xx seemed to be able to make these textural beats and foggy moods on those songs that appealed to my taste in electronic music. Hearing In Colour is like a full album of those beautiful production flourishes put to even better use. “Gosh” starts out like it could be a Prodigy track before working itself into this triumphant finish. “Sleep Sound” sounds like Nicholas Jaar’s Darkside project gone full electro. Romy guests on the great upbeat track “SeeSaw”, a nice change from the more low key xx stuff. She also shows up on the more downbeat “Loud Places”. And not to be left out, Oliver Sims sings on the very xx-like “Stranger In A Room”. While definitely not an xx record, In Colour does feel like what would happen if Jamie xx took more control of the band and its direction. Not a bad thing, really.
Elsewhere “Obvs” is a great steel drum-driven track and “I Know There’s Gonna Be(Good Times)” has a great hip hop feel with guests Young Thug and popcaan. “The Rest Is Noise” and “Girl” end the album with some dance floor vibes and seriously crunchy grooves.
Jamie xx has made a great debut album. It’s the kind of electronic music you can sink your teeth into. It puts me in mind of production and albums by Nicholas Jaar, Baths, and some of the Software label’s roster. It’s not a “look at me, I’m a hell of a producer” kind of record. In Colour is a record filled with songs that breathe and move. Songs you can keep coming back to and find something new each time.
8.3 out of 10