June 2nd had finally arrived. Jamie Smith's, aka Jamie xx's new album was available to be listened to iTunes visualizer-free, with no-strings-attached, and in full: the way In Colour
is supposed to be listened to. After five years of leading his ever expanding audience on with sporadically released singles, the long and anxiously awaited full length had lead up to this bizarrely raw, damp, London-like morning in New York. As I scrambled to the train station with my headphones in, humming along to the already familiar opening tracks, something caught my eye on the horizon. A man with a massive color-wheel umbrella that contrasted with the overcast skies was up ahead. With the parasol resting on his shoulder, he began to spin the wheel, repelling the gray-scale day just as effectively as it repelled the unusually chilly precipitation. Coincidence? Probably. Fate? I'd like to think so, but how can one believe in those sorts of things?
Stylistically reminiscent of electronic producer and fellow Elliot school alumnus, Burial
, In Colour
demonstrates how Jamie xx discovers melodious color and vibrancy, animating his musical landscape however he pleases. Through his use of his signature steel drums, lively synths, and perfectly executed samples, Jamie xx colors in what Burial cannot, surging life into the notoriously grey city of London. The album is Jamie xx's collection of over five years of production, where we are able to hear ideas come to life through his evolution into a blossoming producer.
On tracks like "Sleep Sound" and "Girl," Smith superbly samples artists to construct highly stylized and novel pieces, as he attentively arranges tracks like a jigsaw puzzle, with every piece falling perfectly into place. "Sleep Sound" manages to incorporate the resonant and haunting introduction of The Four Freshman's "Its A Blue World"
with the semi-contemporary pop of Mariah Carey's "Karma"
, displaying the artists vast musical palette, used for painting a vivid image for listeners.
is the sort of album where each track can subjectively become one's highlight track. Despite the subjectivity that arises when discussing particular strengths and weaknesses of an album, there are several exceptional tracks that are certain to make an appearance on most, if not all, preferred track lists. Among these cuts is the standout song, "Loud Places," featuring his xx bandmate, Romy. One of the most anthemic cuts on the album, the track never becomes overzealous, containing the perfect amount of restraint that matches Romy's suppressed vocals layered over the sample featuring Idris Muhammed's "Could Heaven Ever Be Like This"
Jamie xx is no stranger to having the ability to garner mainstream attention and success, especially after producing the instrumental for Drake's 2011, Rihanna-featuring, chart topping hit, "Take Care."That being said, I foresee Jamie finding success on the potentially cringeworthy Young Thug/Popcaan collaboration, "I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times)." It's an exceptional pop song with an undeniable hook that smoothly flows with the rest of the album, and Smith knows it. "Good Times" incorporates the producers aptness for developing a excellently crafted sample, adding an unexpected hip hop feature that transforms the track into a potentially chart topping hit, making it a true musical spectacle on the latter half of In Colour
Upon hearing In Colour
, I went back to listen to The xx, and realized that every chill I received that brought me back in search for more was because of Jamie xx. From the borderline unsettling bass hum on "Islands," powerful enough to rattle your grandmothers china cabinet from a mile away, to the unexpected, yet perfectly timed hand claps on "Heart Skipped a Beat," Jamie xx was an undeniable element of the band's talent. His new album generates the aforementioned effects. Every track contains quality electronic elements sans the predictability of certain electronic music, making each piece impossible to completely absorb upon the first listen. Jamie xx converts his compositions into musical mines in which the listener can delve into, picking apart the fragments they will remember most passionately.