No one can deny the unique sound of The xx, whose 2009 self-titled debut album set the stage for ambient indie music.
Guitarists/vocalists Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim became the foremen for chill, dream-synth tracks, while producer/remix artist Jamie xx remained the band’s DJ wallflower.
The June 2 release of Jamie’s first solo LP, “In Colour,” has finally given the music industry a proper taste of his profound talent. During its first week, it reached No. 1 on Britain’s indie charts and, deservedly, No. 2 on the Billboard indie chart.
Since working with artists such as Gil Scott-Heron and Drake, Jamie has picked up some hip-hop nuances and club dubs that add a kaleidoscope of new grooves that go far beyond what one would ever expect from the brains behind The xx aura.
“In Colour” could easily supercede the indie act’s debut success, and it definitely picks up what their sophomore album, “Coexist,” lacks. Where “Coexist” plays as a reproduction of “XX”, “In Colour” feels like the missing step forward. It is familiar enough to keep the audience listening, but offers enough variety and innovation to keep them excited.
The familiarity peeks through on “Loud Places,” one of the album’s pre-released singles, and “Stranger in a Room,” both of which are collaborations with Croft and Sim. The former is a melancholic trip down memory lane, in which Croft croons remorsefully: “Do I take you to higher places/You couldn’t reach without me?”
“SeeSaw” is another Croft collaboration that waxes a bit more upbeat than “Loud Places,” but still echoes The xx’s cloudiness and dreamy vocals. Jamie steps up the electronica game, though, leaving a starry track that deserves all the attention it can get.
The kick-off track, “Gosh,” vibrates with the energy of metropolitan life. The club vibe at the beginning quickly pulsates into a street, hip-hop drum feel, complete with horn simulations. The song could fare as a city anthem to rival Jay Z’s “Empire State of Mind.”
Lumped in with this genre-bending beat are “Hold Tight” and “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” – a rap track featuring Young Thug and Popcaan that blazes a youthful feel. “Girl,” the closing track, reverberates with that same chill impression.
Jamie’s seamless blending of different styles of music is simply an artful masterpiece. The album’s eccentricity is its greatest value, showcasing skill and creativity that is not very common amongst popular indie acts. With a successful LP like “In Colour,” it is hard to imagine where The xx’s next album could go, much less, indie music in general.
MOVE gives “In Colour” 3 out of 5 stars