If you ever wanted to know what EDM music sounded like in an MTV Unplugged fashion, then I would recommend Jamie xx. The music by this member of the hazy indie band The xx sounds like one long experiment of taking dance music and removing all the over the top antics of sledgehammer beats, buzzing synths, and thumping basslines to emphasize samples and rhythms—all of which can be found on his debut solo release In Colour.
One thing this album represents is the irony of electronic music since the resurgence of House and EDM in mainstream pop. There’s so many releases of fast paced, loud, arena styled dance music that downtempo electronica best suited for background noise and waiting rooms are now becoming coming off as more of a statement. Jamie xx has even made it a point in his live club sets to play music similar to the stripped music of Colour. However, the more minimal sound doesn’t diminish the energy throughout the album.
Colour opens with sounds of chanting and almost misplaced tribal sounds before flowing into “SeeSaw” featuring fellow bandmate Romy which sounds like a 90’s hardcore breakbeat song in the afterlife. The album does hit a big lull in the middle but it gains momentum into the climax of the album between the songs “Loud Places” and “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times) which updates old soul samples to be danceable in clubs today. “Good Times” is also the highlight of the album due to the surprising, yet perfect collaboration with rapper Young Thug known for his mumbled and slurred raps which could easily be a radio-rap hit.
While Jamie xx does offer a different look on retro-influenced dance music, it’s an album full of fun. The music isn’t supposed to be some profound look into electronic music nor should it be taken as such. In Colour is a delicate and complex album that reexamines what dance music could be for different people, and that’s okay.
Donovan “Crescendo” Taylor