At first listen, In Colour, the debut solo album from Jamie xx, feels more like a collection of songs, and less like a strategically sequenced, cohesive concept. A propulsive train-like rhythm opens the album, quickly followed by a looping, pitched-down British voice stating, “Oh my gosh!” and “Yes UK massive!” A bass line walks in, and a Moogy synth line playfully rolls its way around the beats, creating an opening number that’s at once perky and inviting. What follows are songs that include glitchy clicks and whirs, reverb-heavy male and female vocals, and a handful of instrumental tracks liberally sprinkled with echoey oohs and ahs that add a naturalness to the otherwise synthetic ambience.
Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim (both members of Jamie’s other project The xx), make appearances, bringing their familiar, soulful voices to a few of the songs. Not to be outdone, Jamie xx’s signature steel drums, used to great effect on The xx’s first two albums, are prominently featured on the song “Obvs”. The last third of the album is introduced with a somewhat out of place sounding song called “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” which features rappers Young Thug and Popcaan. With its cheerful vocal harmonizing and male braggadocio lyrics, this is the only track that sounds out of place. However, at a time of perishable iTunes singles, where collaborative relevance is crucial, it’s almost a requisite at this point for a producer to show his style can be adapted to a myriad of genres, most especially hip hop.
In Colour ultimately succeeds at providing an impressive sampling of Jamie xx’s abilities that rewards the listener over time, painting a portrait of an artist who’s not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve. Working with singers, rappers, and a toolbox of electronic tricks and wonders, Jamie’s strengths lie in bringing light to the darkness, warmth to the coolness, company to the lonely, and humanity to the robotic. Time will tell if In Colour is the album Jamie xx is best remembered for. Nevertheless, it’s a solid addition to his discography and most certainly a standout within the post-dubstep genre.