Exclaim!'s Top 27 Albums of 2015 So Far

2. Jamie xx
In Colour
(Young Turks)

The name of Jamie xx's solo debut is no winking hyperbole. With his band the xx, the DJ, drummer and producer presented a monochromatic sound; here, he's painting with a full sonic palette, touching on a host of musical tropes — house, UK bass, dancehall, Northern soul — to produce a big-tent dance record that also functions as a private headphone masterpiece.

From the dark menace of opener "Gosh" through to the record's de facto anthems, "I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times)" and "Loud Places," there's a sense that these tracks are going to hit hard whether you're in a field of 10,000 festival goers or on a lonely, late-night transit ride. The latter's opening line, delivered by xx bandmate Romy Madley-Croft — "I go to loud places to search for someone to be quiet with" — doubles as the record's MO.

Dance music has always been about the collective spirit, but its politics, which are too often lost on today's maximalist-minded DJs, were always personal. In Colour doesn't espouse any political point of view, per se, but in making a record that tears down musical walls, Jamie xx managed to once again make dance music personal.
Ian Gormely