Exploding onto our iPods and into our minds, last May brought us the first solo venture from Mr Smith, more commonly known by the general public as Jamie XX. Detaching himself from the XX and finally giving us the full length album we’d all been craving, In Colour really does provide a kaleidoscope of experiences.
A beautifully crafted compilation of every shade of electronic music, it always presents a surprise around every corner. With such a complex album it’s not always easy to figure out how to approach it. Luckily for you, I’m here to help. Here’s how to listen to some of In Colour’s best tracks.
Not one to start off lightly, Jamie XX sets the tone for the album with the highly charged and intensely haunting Gosh. The song really does take you on a journey – not following a traditional linear ascension, it starts off strong with a regular and high paced beat. Perfect for the peak of your weekly (yearly/once in a lifetime if you’re anything like me) run or hardcore cardio session, to really keep the pace up.
Halfway into the song the vocals fade out, while a rhythmic pattern gradually comes in. The melodic line tells a story, travelling up and down the musical spectrum and experimenting with every note and flavour there is. Perfect for the stretch after that run, while the sun sets and you look back into the distance you’ve travelled– all 15 meters of it.
After the workout and thought-provoking experience induced by Gosh, this track will guide you into the darkness and towards the artificial LED lights on your funkiest night out. With no real lyrics or any kind of allusion to sleep at all, the prominent beat and sparse “ooh” and “come on” interjections create the perfect aura to attract the apple of your eye across the dancefloor. Think soundtrack to Skins , catchy, quiet, then loud, and consistently enticing. Way too cool for pre drinks, Sleep Sound comes on at 12.30am to everybody’s happily inebriated delight. Alcohol is optional; eye make-up encouraged, and head bopping most definitely mandatory.
Slow and steady, Obvs arrives. Steelpans open the song and immediately take you to somewhere a lot more exotic than a student bedroom on a quiet street in Bristol (no? just me?). Following the same modus operandi as the other tracks, Obvs presents a regular and repetitive beat which then transforms, bringing in different sounds and textures.
No lyrics are necessary when each new instrument, ranging from bass to percussions brings in an extra voice. Best served on a beach, with each crashing wave bringing a new texture with the sharp salt, cooling water and baking heat – not dissimilar to the array of musical pleasures on offer with this tune.
It would have just been plain rude to not mention this one. The cover girl and general spokesperson for the album, Loud Places samples Idris Muhammad’s “Could Heaven Ever Be Like This” and brings back Jamie’s bandmate Romy on lead vocals, creating one of the biggest hits of the summer.
It may be the presence of a voice to actually sing along with, the catchy chorus or the funky tinkling sounds in the background (strictly professional musical vocabulary right here) but whatever it is, Loud Places is definitely best listened to in a crowd of thousands of people all enjoying the music and appreciating the sweet summer air together. Think festivals, and in this case “the bigger the better” most definitely applies. If you weren’t lucky enough to be there (like this smug writer was), have a look at Jamie XX’s Glastonbury set to see how it’s done.
I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)
When first hearing this song on the album, I actually thought it was a mistake. Quite different from the low key, deep but toned down electronic music Jamie XX had us used to, this track welcomes Young Thug and Popcaan to the album with the soulful and punchy tune. The vibrant and electric toned vocals most definitely contrast with the usual almost spoken word male voices present on previous EPs, but make for an even more refreshing and catchy tune.
You know that feeling just after exams have finished? Or after you’ve worked 3 weeks straight and finally step out into the world which suddenly isn’t so grey? This is the song made for this moment. Get in the car, bus, train, or whatever your preferred method of transportation may be, put your sunglasses on and turn the volume up. When there is no more to-do list, no more revision and nothing but fun ahead, you know there’s gonna be good times.
Originally published on Into the Fold