One-third of Mercury Prize winners The xx, acclaimed producer Jamie xx now goes it alone for a solo debut album, In Colour, which as its title suggests, is a little brighter than the slightly gloomy alt-pop of his day job.
The 26-year-old hasn’t entirely distanced himself from the trio that helped cement his status as one of his generation’s premier beatmakers. The multi-layered instrumentals “Obvs” and “The Rest Is Noise” both utilise the same kind of steel pan melodies and echo-laden guitar riffs that define the Londoners’ signature melancholic sound.
Bandmates Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft also both crop up to provide guest vocals here – the former lending his deep croon to the beatless dub of “Stranger In A Room,” and the latter showcasing her beautifully hushed tones on the Four Tet-produced “SeeSaw” and single of the year contender “Loud Places,” a gorgeous gospel-tinged house affair which evokes Everything But The Girl’s mid-90s dance reinvention, partly due to its inspired sample of their classic mash-up, “Tracey In My Room.”
Another epic moment arrives courtesy of “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times),” a surprisingly summer-y hip-hop jam which sees Atlanta MC Young Thug and Jamaican dancehall star Popcaan trade verses over a sparse tropical-tinged backdrop.
But In Colour is just as exquisite when Jamie xx delves deeper into the annals of club culture, whether it’s the disjointed but delicate two-step garage of “Sleep Sound,” the pirate radio samples and barking dog synths of opener “Gosh,” or the murky electronica of “Hold Tight,” which sounds like it was recorded in the midst of a warehouse rave during the acid house revolution.
A low-key party record which should even appeal to those who don’t like partying, the perfectly-judged mix of nostalgia and forward-thinking of In Colour proves once again that Jamie xx is the master of introverted electronica.