Jamie xx is a producer, re-mixer and one third of The xx. In Colour is his first full-length solo album, a project that has been in the works for a number of years but put on hold because of a busy schedule. After the success of The xx’s debut album, xx, in 2009, which saw him and his band mates catapulted into the limelight, his solo work largely ended up taking a back seat for a few years. In early 2011 he would go on release a very well received remix album of Gil-Scott Heron‘s final album, 2010’s I’m New Here, re-titled We’re New Here. Then after We’re New Here it was time to work on The xx’s second full-length album, Coexist, released in September 2012. It was during 2012 that the recording process for In Colour would begin, taking over two years to complete.
The album was composed over a six year period and assembled from unfinished tracks that he had lying around. The cover is fairly reflective of the vibrancy he’s tried to achieve on In Colour, with its mix of late 80s and early 90s influenced British dance styles. While being a pretty good album overall, it certainly doesn’t warrant the level hype that it’s has received from some sections of the music press. But at the same time, it also doesn’t warrant some of the overly negative and sometimes snobbish dismissals it’s also received, with some dismissing it as cheap ear candy for hipsters to listen to in trendy clothes shop, or “club music for the neoliberal age.” It’s definitely not a bad album, it’s just not the greatest dance album of all time either. The album makes a pretty strong start with “Gosh” and “Seesaw” being two of the stand-outs from the opening four tracks. A few weak moments creep in halfway following the minute and a half interlude type track, “Just Saying”. After some ups and down though, the album finishes strongly with two of its best tracks, “The Rest Is Noise” and “Girl”.
There are four tracks spread across the album featuring guest appearances, three of them being filled by his band mates from The xx. The two tracks featuring Romy work well, with “Seesaw” being one of the highlights of In Colour. “Stranger in a Room” featuring Oliver on the other hand isn’t great, sounding like a weak The xx track. The lowest point of the album though is easily “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” featuring Popcaan and Young Thug, which feels completely out of place compared to the rest of the album. Despite its dips though, it’s a fairly solid and fun listen overall, as long as you don’t take it too seriously. It may be a little unadventurous, it’s not going to change the world, but it does a pretty good job of taking various dance styles and turning them into a nice blend of melancholic and mildly euphoric pop. Its main weakness lies in the fact that it lacks the consistency required to turn it into a great album. It certainly doesn’t deserve the hate, but it also doesn’t deserve the levels of hype it’s receiving either.
Released: 29 May 2015
Label: Young Turks/XL