The xx’s prodigy producer Jamie xx has debuted his solo career with a sweet, nostalgic LP giving us the minimalist electronic pop we all know and love. Bringing In Colour into a contemporary context, he collaborates his skill of producer, DJ and remixer into one coherent album. However, it is one bursting with memories. He captures sounds of the past and transposes them in a new setting, playing them in reminiscence as something more personal than the average chart topping album.
Opening track ‘Gosh’ embeds this key idea, sampling from the Radio 1 Pilot in its ultra-basic bassline, building up one loop upon the next. The instrumental haunt of the track aims at setting the mood rather than sticking to a particular style, swaying from the jungle roots implanted from the sample. ‘Sleep Sound’ is a warm, euphoric piece of music suggesting a softcore-rave feel, pursuing quieter beats that can be acknowledged in the other tracks on the LP such as ‘Just Saying’. Honing in again on the minimalist values, he mimics an aerobic pulse whilst flushing away any unnecessary elements to make a fluid and clean piece. Both songs have an eerie quality merging together feelings of infinity and solitude.
Experimenting further with texture, ‘SeeSaw’ is another soft piece with bandmate Romy Madley Croft whispering gently alongside the pulsing synth and breakbeats. The song grows richer as you explore the endless space created by this vast track aided by the open ended lyrics that need not be completed as the music answers it for you. ‘Stranger in a Room’ has Oliver Sim feature too, one of the only songs within the album with heavy influences from The XX through the yearning so recognisable.
Croft is featured too in ‘Loud Places’, a particularly harrowing song telling the story of two former lovers beginning their paths separately and overcoming the emotions “You’re in ecstacy without me” and “he goes to loud places to search for someone who will take him higher than she took him”. The song becomes more inclusive and warmer than a few of the other track through the use of the relatable lyrics of loneliness.
Driven by the steel drums, his growing trademark, ‘Obvs’ draws out the colour within the album. As Jamie Smith once described “You can make it sound quite melancholy…but at the same time, it reminds me of paradise” – a perfect way to sum up this track and the entire album. Bliss within the longing sadness. The steel drums are heard again in ‘I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)’, bringing onboard Young Thug alongside Popcaan; Thug’s lyrics mirroring the bright tones of Smith’s steel drums and producing a digression from the distinctly London-sounding record.
Jamie xx has yet again proved to us his wide range of knowledge and ability flush out anything unneeded. We are presented with an aesthetically pleasing debut album of elegant, sweeping tracks, capitalising on minimalist incarnations of previous beauties and songs formed of open space to allow the listener to be free to bear the emotions entailed.
Words by Ella Thorns