The xx’s debut album xx was released in August 2009, immediately springing to fame in the UK’s Indie Pop scene and soon across the world. Six months later ‘I’m New Here’ was released by Gil Scott-Heron in February of 2010, his first album in 13 years and to a much smaller reception. Within a year Jamie Smith (aka Jamie xx), of The xx, has turned the response to this album around, releasing ‘We’re New Here’, the inevitable remix of the original by Gil Scott-Heron.
The original’s title track, ‘I’m New Here’, consisted of acoustic guitar while Scott-Heron proclaimed anyone can turn themselves around, becoming “new again”, just as he did. Jamie xx has maintained this message while revamping the delivery, introducing synths and tambourines as well as piercing extra vocals.
Highlights of the record include ‘Running’, ‘New York Is Killing Me’ and ‘I’ll Take Care of You’. The industrial sounds of ‘Running’ are taken over by heavy, repetitive beats paired with Scott-Heron’s deep, slow conversation.
Though ‘New York Is Killing Me’ is a definite favourite, it’s hard to say whether or not it tops the hand-clapped beats of the original. The remix introduces eerie high-pitched squeals over Scott-Heron’s rough voice and the dubstep elements that make it a winner.
‘I’ll Take Care of You’ concludes the album with the most soulful of the bunch, though the moody piano is replaced with an optimistic dance beat, Jamie xx still manages to maintain the tender intimacy of the vocals to bring the album to an emphatic close.
The increasingly predictable remix seems to be just what I’m New Here needed as Gil Scott-Heron’s message reaches out to new audiences with Jamie xx’s influence. ‘We’re New Here’ is a soulful, hair-raising album of electronic beats and raw personal experiences that connects perfectly leaving a lasting impression.
Olivia Whyte