Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Jamie xx ft. Romy – Loud Places

A brief shining controversy, and then that [6]…


Danilo Bortoli: Part of the charm of In Colour resides in the fact that it doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel. It’s emotionally controlled, even elegant (some would prefer “gentrified”), smart about what to conceal and what to reveal next.  It’s smart about track sequencing too. Right before a wisely placed Persuasions sample about setting out in the night to find fun and pleasure, we get to the emotional centerpiece of the album — “Loud Places”, a song about just finding someone. “Loud Places” is all about context: Romy’s vocals, along with the guitar we’ve heard several times before, act as bait so the xx fans don’t feel alienated. But it doesn’t feel like an xx song because of its scale. “Loud Places” rejoices in the paradoxical thought of being alone and still sounding gigantic. Which is to say, Jamie Smith is finally free from the obligatory negative spaces he used to create as a producer for said band. He’s no longer carving out sounds out of thin air. He’s learnt it’s alright to convey sadness, and he exploits his pop sensibilities as if they were a playground for nostalgia. He’s finding playfulness in loneliness, and, as much as he has already proven his love for things left unsaid back in 2009, I’ve never thought he would be able to reach such heights. “I feel music in your eyes”, someone also says. That’s a very universal thing to say, I’m sure: it’s almost too vague. Still, “Loud Places”, as a whole, seems to carve this feeling out of thin air, just like Jamie xx used to do. The difference is that the catharsis now meets no boundaries.

Micha Cavaseno: Jamie xx is Diplo. Let me cut through the bullshit of Romy’s captivating (FLAT) voice and get right down to why I’m not going to entertain Jamie xx’s Young Turks-endorsed glob-trotting: because it’s no different then Diplo. Sure, he’s not as vile a character as Diplo, but at least Diplo admits he’s a festering maggot with odd pride and flair. This whole album is riddled with the adamant perversity of big-game hunters who think turning elephant legs into ashtrays is a fitting tribute, which is how Jamie treats rave, dancehall, funky, rap, grime, garage and the millions of genres at his fingertips. He reduces them to great furniture pieces but never bothers to get his hands dirty. They become just another Instagram filter-soaked Tumblr image, loaded with maudlin pouting, for him to cycle through and maintain his depth as an artist. Yet Jamie xx has not done the work, he has not reaped anything. He is a scrawny brat of a cannibal, prancing like he’s gained the soul of his prized carcasses. A necessary attribute for a man who continues to make dance music as soulless as this welp continues to be.

Brad Shoup: Still content to limn the space between club and club bathroom, Jamie xx does at least show off his sharpening sense for swoon-inducing samples, even as he flaunts his disregard for how sonics can play off each other. His way with percussion is nearly criminal.

Thomas Inskeep: Is that a guitar figure that comes in around 2:20, gradually taking precedence over the track for a good 30 seconds? And the massed handclaps are a surprise, not to mention the way Jamie turns a chorus of voices into something briefly approaching a soccer stadium chant. Keyboard riffs sound like Coca-Cola bottles being played. The opening line “I go to loud places/to search for someone/to be quiet with” is one of the best lyrics of the year. There are so many elements here, amassing into a gorgeous, wholly unexpected minor alt-pop masterpiece.

Alfred Soto: He’s expanding his sound and all that — his idea of a loud place is a room with a choir, while his guitar maps a chord progression that Bloc Party might have dug. Romy sounds terrific though.

Iain Mew: “I go to loud places to search for someone to be quiet with.” That’s some first line, especially from someone so adept at conjuring the pleasures of quiet. The song expands out from there, chatter around its edges, mourning blown up into a party-sized celebration.

Rebecca A. Gowns: Straddling the line between earworm and headache.

Will Adams: “Loud places” is just the perfect descriptor: it’s all those parties, gatherings and soirées that, no matter whether you’ve been forced to attend or jumped at the electronic ping of the invite, are still alienating. Still, they excite you, in some perverse way; there’s a thrill in the bustling din of those cramped apartments, where you edge your way along the wall, cup of warm Coke and cheap rum clasped in your hand, both overwhelmed by the mass of unfamiliar faces and overjoyed at the exclusivity of it all. The song maps the quiet-loud dynamic structure so familiar to pop songs onto this double-edged social sword. Each place — loud or quiet — has its comforts, just as it has its fears.

Ramzi Awn: It’s a shame to waste a perfectly produced slow burner on Romy’s sleepy vocals. The shimmering chorus is all Jamie xx needed. 

Katherine St Asaph: A generally unspoken truth about the xx: the point they fell from critical grace coincided near-exactly — yes, perhaps by coincidence — with the point they were adopted en masse by the dorm dwellers of the world as makeout music. So the reappearance of Romy against hushed piano and little else, of that quavery “I go to loud places to search for someone to be quiet with,” made me instinctively flinch, prime one-word answers and brushoffs for the phantom hulking bro at my shoulder who would find that deep. Which is uncharitable. “Loud Places” is about the breakup, not the coupling. Romy still makes a fine Tracey, if little more than fine (because when emulating Tracey, most people are little more than fine), and Jamie has other tricks. I just wish they weren’t diluted gospel, house heard through an insulation layer, and the guitar from “Intro.” The problem with conjuring higher, unreachable places is that one imagines they have more visceral music.

Scott Mildenhall: It’s always hard to find any level of emotional pull in the xx’s music. Everything about it feels blank, so it’s good to hear Romy’s vocals on something that actually sounds alive, and more than that, a piece of audio cinema. For the moment the music and chatter first drops in, it’s like her whole world has dropped out. It’s about going missing in a crowd, and it’s uncommonly palpable.

Patrick St. Michel: There was one particularly lazy summer a few years back where, due to a combination of the unusual heat and my mom buying a much better wi-fi router, I spent hours just downloading music. It was the height of MP3 blogs, and one could waste days browsing Hype Machine and loading up on songs. One of my favorite finds was the Kris Menace and Lifelike remix of “I Feel Music In Your Heart,” a soaring number that always made me want to spend a night out, something I didn’t do then. “But one day soon,” I thought, “I’m going to, and it will be life-changing.” It’s jarring to hear traces of that rework (which sampled from a much older song) pop up in “Loud Places,” a song about nostalgia and the lonely now. “Loud Places” strikes a nerve, because those clubs I once thought would change my life mostly made me feel intensely alone. When Romy sings “I go to loud places/to search for someone/to be quiet with,” a hundred horrible memories flood into my head. Yet I can’t get over the heart of “Loud Places,” of that voice singing “I feel music in your heart.” If Jamie xx had pulled some different record out of his collection, I think I’d be more wooed. But he chose the one that reminds me of giddy hope, and I’d rather revisit that then the crushing part that follows.

Nina Lea Oishi: A few nights after my first major high school relationship had disintegrated, my friends dragged me to the football game. I stood in the stands watching the ex-boyfriend lean close and whisper sweet things to his new girlfriend. When our team won, I remember gazing up, watching the light rain whisper downwards under the bright glare of the stadium, feeling quiet even as everyone cheered around me. When I hear Romy sing here I think of that night when I was younger and more lost, that surreal sense of isolation in the midst of a crowd, the way everything seemed muted and slow-motion and underwater, that voyeurism of merely observing everyone around you. Oh yes, there’s the chatter of a crowd, the boom-thump of a party in the background, the chorus singing joyfully, but Romy’s no part of that — she’s there but the celebration is happening without her. Everyone’s shouting, but Romy doesn’t feel it. She’s gazing up, pleading, hoping something will change for her tonight. That’s what “Loud Places” is about: not the actual loud places, but about the longing and loss and sadness curled up in the corners of these places, about the falling rain, the beauty.

Reader average: [8.45] (11 votes)

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4 Responses to “Jamie xx ft. Romy – Loud Places”

  1. Wow. A 10 immediately followed by a 0. Is that a first?

  2. Everyone in top form here. “Between club and club bathroom” is a minor masterpiece.

  3. thanks, Neil

  4. take Maxwell’s blurb and replace “Jamie xx” with “Burial”

    Hyperdub are worse globe-trotters than Mad Decent tbh