In Colour: Jamie the xxplorer

Play on, Jamie, play on.

I threw off the headphones during my first listen.

In Colour irked me, not because it was bad but because it was clearly different from the sound of xx and Coexist.

Well, that was my mistake:

This is not an album by the xx. It’s a thought experiment by Jamie Smith.

However it is the closest thing we have to a drink of water in the desert sojourn between albums by the xx.

I don’t buy this as a culmination of the xx’s career or even Smith’s career. In Colour is a companion piece. It’s a showcase, an oasis for the earbuds.

Or the official soundtrack for REM sleep. My apologies to Michael Stipe.

Only four cuts feature vocals, one of which I still am trying to understand after 100 plays. But don’t mistake this for a slow trigger finger.

Smith knows just when to fire. And by “Loud Places,” he takes his shot.

This cut launches itself after 20 summat minutes of build up, reaching straight-up majectic heights with Romy Madley Croft’s voice backed with a choir and shimmering instrumentation. I expect rainbows to shoot out of my speakers.

Moreover, “Loud Places” is Jamie xx urging the listener to dance the pain away. To turn tragedy into beauty.

Smith then capitalizes on his marksmanship by following-up with “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times),” which lies somewhere in between rap, reggae and electronic. But whatever genre-bending magic involved, it kicks ass.

Smith’s music senses sharpen throughout his debut. He just accelerates from “Gosh” to “Girl.”

But by the end of the album, he makes it clear that he is drinking in whatever sense or style quenches his thirst.

And if anything, that should make us thirsty for more.

Grade: B+

Producer(s): Four Tet, Jamie xx

Track Listing:

  1. “Gosh”
  2. “Sleep Sound”
  3. “SeeSaw”
  4. “Obvs”
  5. “Just Saying”
  6. “Stanger In A Room”
  7. “Hold Tight”
  8. “Loud Places”
  9. “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)”
  10. “The Rest Is Noise”
  11. “Girl”


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About BenJamsToo

A young dude with an old soul from Portland, OR but currently teaching and writing in rural France. A lover of rock n roll since his mother first spun The Police’s “Roxanne,” he’s also dabbler in soul, funk, jazz, blues, electronic and hip-hop. Perhaps it’s easier to list what he doesn’t like; most gangster rap, country-western and modern metal disagrees with his stomach. Spends all day wondering what Ruban Nielson eats for breakfast, why Danger Mouse hasn't made a through and through GOOD record since St. Elsewhere, if Kamasi Washington is the Kanye West of jazz and just what the hell people hear in mumble rap. Between those things he writes for Atwood and his own blog, Come here for the nice clean thoughts; go there for the ramblings of an insane man.