A Symphony of Synths
Jamie XX has branched out into the wildly familiar unknown for his first record without his XX counterparts that creates a luscious soundscape full of 90s UK dancehall throwback with a modern flair.
Jamie is a conductor of his synth-symphony, and every direction he takes feels as natural and beautiful as the sweeping air around us. He commands your every emotion with cracking drums and vibrating synths that sound like signal echoes from the distance. It’s difficult to pull of what he has done on “In Colour”, but goddamn does it excel in everything it sets out to be: bold, beautiful, and dense.
From the opening crescendo of layered drums and samples on the intro track ‘Gosh’, Jamie lays out a clear expectation for the listeners: “Don’t expect convention.” He clashes brash and abrasive samples in layer-after-layer to create a dirty, uncertain sound. It isn’t until he ties the package together with a rich, high-pitched synth that flows freely that he hits you in the face with what he has just created.
Another stand out cut off the album, ‘Loud Places’, sees Jamie reunited with female vocalist and band mate, Romy, from their group The XX. “I go to those places/ Where we used to go/ They seem so quiet now/ I’m here, all alone,” sings Romy with a soft, false confidence. The track does a perfect job of illustrating the “lost in the crowd” feeling post-breakup, when it amps up the pulsing 808s and soulful chorus sample. “You’re in ecstacy/ Without me/ When you come down/ I might be around.”
The greatest aspect about this song, and the others on the album, is its ability to jam so much into a few minutes with such clarity and vision. It becomes very clear that Jamie has found his lane while shifting the paradigm of what is possible for electronic production. “In Colour” is a vivid realization of raw talent.