Jamie XX’s “Loud Places” is a song that can be enjoyed completely on its own merits – but it’s a song that deserves a little digging into its influences to get a better perspective on the angle from which it’s attacking.
Jamie Smith, better known by his moniker Jamie XX, has had a strong musical background since childhood – two of his uncles were DJs. One in New York, spinning in the chilled out scene of the 90s and mixing Latin beats. The other spun house music on pirate radio (and later Kiss FM) in Sheffield. Both of these influences are important to the current landscape of dance music as a whole and can be found in his debut album, In Colour – from the quiet beats that permeate the album to the clear house influence in the bass. The pirate radio aspect is especially interesting: “Loud Places” clearly exudes a knowledge of early British house and combines it with a sensibility that is rooted in the early 70s, when dance music with a certain sense of forlornness (perhaps emptiness? heartbreak?) was also extremely popular – evidenced through its use of Idris Muhammad’s “Could Heaven Ever Be Like This” (though Robyn has also championed the Sad Empowering Dance Anthem as of late).
“Loud Places,” though, beneath its multitude of influences, is still extremely visceral – it’s a song about a very specific sadness that will be apparent to anyone who’s ever been left. Going to the club or bar and running into that boyfriend who left you 4 months ago for vague reasons – maybe you went out by yourself to escape the shitty apartment you got stuck with. The questions you ask yourself after an awkward greeting or on the walk home after last call: what wasn’t good enough? What didn’t you see? Do you make people unhappy? “Didn’t I take you to higher places you can’t reach without me?” sings Romy Madley Croft (his bandmate in the xx) over a soft, repetitive guitar riff and drums that manage to somehow both shimmer and bounce while remaining firmly rooted in her misery. “Loud Places” succeeds in somehow being a complete banger while turning the heartbreak dial up to 11 – maybe it won’t help you get over an ex, but you can look good dancing in front of them – follow up with Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” and you have yourself a night.
Oct 09 – The Fox Theatre – Oakland, CA
Oct 15 – O2 Academy Brixton – London, UK
Oct 16 – Albert Hall – Manchester, UK
Oct 17 – The Arches – Glasgow, UK
Oct 19 – Gloria Theater – Cologne, Germany
Oct 20 – Den Atelier – Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Oct 22 – Paradiso – Amsterdam, Netherlands
Oct 23 – Ancienne Belgique – Brussels, Belgium
Oct 24 – Uebel & Gefährlich – Hamburg, Germany
Oct 29 – Ääniwalli – Helsinki, Finland
Oct 30 – Yotaspace – Moscow, Russia
Oct 31 – Glavclub – Saint Petersburg, Russia
Nov 01 – Store Vega – Copenhagen, Denmark