With a number of remixes and a couple of singles to his name, it was always a case of when rather than if a full solo album would be put together by Jamie “xx” Smith. Outside of his work as part of The xx, Smith has built up a blooming reputation in the contemporary beat scene. And with the over-saturation of abrasive EDM showing no signs of slowing down, In Colour arrives at a perfect time for everyone — in particular for those who may be looking to cross their indie/alt tastes into more electronic territories this summer.
Jamie is undoubtedly and unapologetically smitten with 90’s dance sounds and UK rave culture, as opening track “Gosh” demonstrates with flair, but In Colour is not an album specifically designed to soundtrack another massive night out. In between throbbing bass lines and drum breaks he weaves a deeper, more meticulous and resonating atmosphere. Through keys, synths, sampling and a fluid use of both space and time, Smith takes the kind of nocturnal ambience and minimalism which has underpinned a lot of The xx’s finest material and stretches, contorts and re-shapes it to create a gorgeous, kaleidoscopic effect — one that overlaps the aesthetics of both the night before and the morning after to great effect.
In a similar fashion to fellow UK producer Burial’s breakthrough LP Untrue, In Colour really feels most vibrant and alive after dark, as it unfurls with a slightly haunting and sensational slow burn throughout. The only real exception to this is latest single “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” which whilst being a certified summer jam does peel away from the phantom zone territory in which the rest of the record resides. Still, besides this, it’s frankly too good not to be included, and as an added bonus shows that Jamie works extremely well with others. Both Young Thug and Popcaan are a great fit for the track’s scaled back, tropical lilt.
As a whole, the very nature of In Colour is one that’s perfectly content to bleed out in its own time. It takes multiple listens to truly hear its many strands unravel, making it the very definition of an audible ear worm, the kind that rewards you a little more with each spin. This is exactly why I’ll be having it on constant repeat this summer, and why you should too.