LAURIE CHEN reviews an exclusive taster of Jamie xx’s forthcoming album.
If the tantalizing drip-feed of solo material released by Jamie xx in the past few years has proven anything, it is that the producer deserves to be recognized as a musical game-changer in his own right. Following on from 2012’s Coexist, the xx member has since been carving out a solid niche for himself in the world of electronic music, remixing songs from Florence and the Machine to Radiohead as well as building up a small but precisely crafted body of solo work.
The producer, whose real name is Jamie Smith, plans to release his eagerly-awaited debut album in June. Titled In Colour, the full-length will include previously released singles ‘Girl’ and ‘Sleep Sound’. It will also feature guest appearances from the likes of Four Tet and his xx bandmates Romy Madley-Croft and Oliver Sim. Unsurprisingly, the album’s June launch gig sold out in a matter of minutes.
The newly released singles ‘Gosh’ and ‘Loud Places [ft. Romy]’ are certainly a welcome addition to Jamie xx’s output so far. The former sounds initially like a massive old-school club banger, with its minimalistic interplay of synthesized hi-hats, subterranean bass and warped “Oh my gosh” sample. Reminiscent of 90s trip-hop, the sparse textures and simple loops also sound refreshingly nostalgic, like the kind of thing that would make you want to fist-pump to a Windows 95-filtered Nike commercial. However, the atmosphere of the song completely changes when, seemingly out of nowhere, the heavily-processed keyboard synth solo weaves its way to the climax of the song. It’s a triumphant conclusion to an anthem that looks back to the past for inspiration, yet remains modern nonetheless.
Meanwhile, ‘Loud Places’ showcases the immediately recognisable vocals of Romy Madley-Croft, harking back to that intimate, confessional quality which made The xx’s music so appealing when they first emerged onto the scene. This time around, Jamie Smith adds rousing gospel handclaps and pin-drop percussion beats to the mix, which makes for a more uplifting listening experience overall – though no less emotionally candid. Bearing in mind the fact that Madley-Croft and Smith used to be in a relationship together, the low-key vulnerability of the song’s lyrics take on an extra resonance.
In Colour will be released on June 1 via Young Turks.