A Rainbow Collection
If there’s one persistent problem with electronic music today, it’s the prevalence of dead perfection. In an era when anything can be doctored, covered, airbrushed, or otherwise digitally polished, “perfection” becomes so pervasive that the world is saturated in it and things become dreadfully boring. And if there’s one thing to be said about Jamie xx’s In Colour, it’s that it has jumped the hurdle of dead perfection. It has life in it.
Like many artists, Jamie looks backward for inspiration, but not to the plastic synth-pop of the 80’s that recently blew up in the world’s collective face. In Colour draws more on early hip-hop, soul and 90’s electronica to create a sound that’s more organic and less predictable, a record as fun as it is deep. Jamie’s songs are built on tightly crafted beats layered with melodies and vocals that run the gamut from threadbare to baroque.
Each song has its own distinct feel, but blends into its surroundings. “Gosh” opens the album on a tinny, low-fi, garage hip-hop sort of sound, while its follow-up, “Sleep Sound,” dips into the slower and sexier spectrum, bending vocal samples into rhythmic melodies in a way that’s simultaneously mechanical and emotive. Throughout the record, Jamie makes use of programmed melodies as much as organic instrumentation, blending both seamlessly in tight synth arpeggios and loose guitar harmonics on the melancholy R&B tune, “Stranger in a Room.” All of these disparate elements really start to coalesce on the last leg of the album, a series of songs that run into one another and all showcase the artist’s strong song-crafting abilities, though perhaps none better than the all-at-once bright, introspective, complex, and soulful “Loud Places.”
In Colour is an album that never gets boring. It actually becomes more engaging the longer it goes on, and each subsequent listen winds up yielding something fresh from a surprisingly deep collection of songs. It’s a wonderful solo debut from Jamie xx, and hopefully the first of many solid albums.