BY JONATHAN LEVITT
I want to remember the days of drinking and doing illicit substances with friends, of having moments of micro-epiphanies. I want to see the night lights the hallucinatory flash of neon, the burning of cigarette smoke in my nostrils. As I wend my way down the street I come to a door behind which the tremors of bass utter their menacing subterranean growl. The door flings open emitting a smoke, beer, and sweat all rolled into a monsoonal fog. There are intense flashes of light, a storm is rolling in and as you descend down the stairs something magical is taking place on the dance floor. Bodies are locked in synchrony hanging on every beat and flanged out sample the DJ throws at them.
It has been a long time since I’ve heard a record like this filled with such disparate influences, rendered with intense precision and clarity of mind. You know the one that takes you on a journey and dumps you somewhere radically different. I’m reminded of Massive Attack’s Mezzanine and Deadmau5’s For Lack of a Better Name, two albums that continue to inspire today. In Colour is the latest record from one half of The XX’s Jamie Smith. It’s an inspirational beautifully crafted record, with unintrusive production.
Let’s start with the final track “Girl” it’s a blissed out late night number that signals that 4 am close of the club and the tortuous trek home to sleep it off. By now your shirt is a rancid mix of other people’s sweat as you make your way onto the street with the other punters.
“Hold Tight” is that second wind song full of a clanging slightly off kilter drone, with a beat that slowly evolves and like any great dance song transmits through its sonic haze a reviving energy for those out on the dance floor.
“Stranger in the Room” has elements of No-Man’s Flowermouth. It’s a really beautiful song with emotional vocals, deep lyrics and some gorgeous hazy guitar.
“Loud Places” is an ecstatic number that has a lyric, which is a great summary for the entire record. Romy Madley Croft sings “I take you to higher places you can’t reach without me.” Like a young Tracy Thorn her singing is direct, unadulterated and emotionally resonant.
Jamie XX has rearticulated dance music once again. This is an album that surfs from one emotional peak to the next. It’s an album I was actually sad to have end. Firing on all cylinders like this bodes well for the next XX album. See you on the dance floor.
DOWNLOAD: “Girl,” “Loud Places”