The Low-Down On Jamie xx's In Colour

The DJ delivers on his plentiful promise

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There’s a playlist on Spotify called “jamie xx made this music cool”. It’s full of artists like Nicolas Jaar, Caribou and Fantastic Mr Fox, who produce slow-burning, deeply thought-out electronica that’s too slow to really dance to, but has too much going on to be chill-out. An unkind person might quibble with the playlist’s title in a couple of cases: Jamie xx was eight when the Come To Daddy EP came out, and last time we checked, Aphex Twin didn’t need much help with his credibility. But it serves as a neat illustration that right now there’s no bigger poster boy for leftfield electronica than Jamie xx.

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Known to the Mercury Music Prize panel as one-third of indie pop’s The xx, Jamie xx has a successful parallel career as a producer and remixer for Drake and Radiohead, while Jay Z and Beyoncé have attended his gigs.

Apparently fascinated by DJing since a boy when he saw his uncle spinning discs in a New York bar, he’s lately become something of a spokesperson for club culture: bemoaning the demise of London institution Plastic People, and decrying how overdevelopment is killing the capital’s nightlife.

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It all informs his debut solo album, which follows his acclaimed remix album with Gil Scott Heron, We’re New Here, in 2011. In Colour is indisputably a Jamie xx work – clear from the opening chattering drum loop of “Gosh” – with new breadth and depth from instruments including steel drums, glockenspiel and gospel vocals (perhaps that’s the title’s meaning). It’s full of nuanced beauty.

As with The xx, it’s about the space around the sounds, as much as the sounds themselves. Bandmates Oliver Sim and Romy Madley-Croft add vocals to one and two tracks respectively, the latter adding suitably disconnected yearning to “Seesaw” (“I’m like a seesaw/Up and down with you”) and dance-till-dawn euphoria to “Loud Places”. At its best – the propulsive, melodic “Obvs” and trippy, dubby “Hold Tight” – this is instrumental music at its most transportive, invoking driving through deserted cities late at night.

Electronic albums can outstay their welcomes, as though the supposedly futuristic form of the music is a license to go wibbling off into infinity. But, The xx pop sensibility intact, In Colour’s author gets his 11 tracks to come in under 45 minutes.

When they’re finished you want to go straight back to the start.

In Colour by Jamie xx is out on 1 June (Young Turks)

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