By Spencer. In this month’s edition of The Consumer, we feature the revolutionary solo debut from Jamie xx, plus new material from Florence + The Machine and Dawes, and a summertime hip-hop surprise courtesy of Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment.
Jamie xx – In Colour: Fans of The xx will recognize much that they love on In Colour, the new solo album from producer/DJ/drummer Jamie xx. The same sonic elements show up: moody, echoing guitars and trip-hop influenced beats and even the sex-tinged vocals of bandmates Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim. But In Colour is also a departure, focusing on EDM and instrumental compositions instead of the traditional verse-chorus format of The xx. “Songs” (if you can call them that) shift in rapid-fire succession from one to the next, creating a seamless soundscape that marries the best of old school rave music with the emotional maturity of an artist who is unafraid to engage with real feelings. It’s both serious and fun, focused and yet gloriously all over the place, and it’s already on the shortlist for best of the year.
Jamie xx – “Hold Tight”
Florence + The Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful: Three albums in, you pretty much know what to expect from Florence Welch and company: big, inspiring anthems with vocals that make you want to pound your chest. The approach stays the same on their latest release, and that’s exactly what you want. True, nothing on this album approaches the staying power of that omnipresent single, “Dog Days Are Over,” from Lungs, but that would be setting the bar a bit high. The songs here are eminently listenable, and the energy is still there. This album won’t change your life, but it’s certainly worth a few listens.
Florence + The Machine – “Ship To Wreck”
Dawes – All Your Favorite Bands: Dawes is one of those bands that teases you. Their last few albums seemed promising from the iTunes samples, and turned out to be utterly forgettable after one or two listens. So I’m happy to say that they finally break the trend on “All Your Favorite Bands.” Somewhat ironically (given the name of the album), one of our S&N contributors, Biff, compares Dawes unfavorably to The Eagles—and sonically, the comparison makes sense. But this time around, they’re working with producer David Rawlings (whose past collaborators includes Ryan Adams, Bright Eyes, and Gillian Welch), and the influence is exactly what they needed. The songs are catchier, the guitars are rawer, and finally, Dawes has some bite.
Dawes – “Don’t Send Me Away”
Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – Surf: Hip-hop has been in a creative slump the past couple of years; aside from Run The Jewels, I can’t think of a single release in recent memory that has challenged me. On this side project, Chance The Rapper comes the closest to changing that opinion. Surf doesn’t break new ground so much as it revisits the creative glory days of hip-hop: that mellower brand of early 90s, jazz-influenced hip-hop typified by acts like A Tribe Called Quest and Us3, or the neo-soul revival we saw later in the decade with Common and Erykah Badu. The instrumentation ranges from 80s synth to that namesake trumpet, but the sound is warm throughout—giving Surf an unusual breeziness that’s perfect for summer listening.
Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – “Windows”