For an album with such a definite aesthetic, In Colour’s greatness lies in its conflicts. One moment you’re in the throws of a dance anthem; be it hazy and euphoric, the summertime swang of a dancehall-southern hip-hop lovechild, or some hard AF rave-scene throwback. The next moment you’re surrounded by the lonely echoes typical of The xx’s sound (old bandmates lend a few vocals) looking back with a melancholic nostalgia to that all too momentary feeling.
Even more impressive is the ability to wield both effects in the same track, even simultaneously. The refrain of ’Loud Places’ shimmers under an old disco vocal sample (“I have never reached such highs”) but abruptly dissipates into a lonely, sparse ending. Opener ‘Gosh’ hits hard with cut-up, jungle drums, narrated by repeated exclamations of disbelief from a 90’s UK MC, but it slides into a soaring, reflective climax . And ‘I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)’ (with the inspired feature of Young Thug) blends Caribbean dancehall, hip-hop and soul into what was the feel-good tune of this summer for more than a few listeners.
Throughout, the album is an ode to the UK rave culture that inspired and is so present in Jamie xx’s music. There are frequent samples of 90s jungle tunes and MC’s testimonies to the power of the scene, particularly the ‘UK massive’. However, I think that conflict of the moment versus reflection is a much more effective homage to a culture of going out, wallowing in the after-effects and doing it all again the night after.
Jamie xx is touring the world for at least the first half 2016, but hopefully he’ll find the time to drop some fresh flames in between and after all the globe-trotting,