Reviewed by Underbelly
James Blake returns with his sophomore outing on Republic Records, further refining is twisted take on R&B and electronic music. Contrary to the gospel of Pitchfork's almighty rating system, this album is leaps and bounds better than James' debut. FCC clean, too.
*1. Piano drenched in reverb with James' signature croon. Heavy filtered down bass. gorgeous vocals. Absolutely fantastic use of harmony; almost classical. Twitchy hi-hats complement the sinister feel. Positively epic breakdown with cinematic strings and cymbal flourishes. Really putting your best foot forward there, ay James?
*2. James' vocals drift in and out of focus as the track's groove materializes into view. Positively haunting; sinister. Feeling very inspired by the production here, James.
3. Arpeggiated riff drenched in reverb. Kinda trappy drum beat. This track doesn't gel quite as well as the first two; The synth used for the main riff sticks out to me and song seems to start and stop without going anywhere meaningful. Schizophrenic.
*4. James Blake and the RZA? Madness, you say! But little did you know that this was a match made in musical heaven. RZA delivers a sinister verse over a plodding piano groove straight outta 36 Chambers while James croons away. Beautiful.
*5. Lead single for the album. James' signature crooning over a simple kick clap beat with very nice jazzy piano chordage. Then, incredible synth work ups the drama to stratospheric levels. Powerful.
6. James goes back to the basics with this simple piano ballad? Or so it seems. "Please don't let me hurt you no more", croon the Blake Choir Boys. An interesting interlude.
7. Ominous, plodding drum groove. Nice vinyl crackle in the distance. Chopped samples of James' vocal permeate the sound scape. Frequent breakdowns keep you on your toes.
8. Unsettling vocal loop with four on the floor drums. Interesting percussion. Rocky at first, but finds it's foundation midway through the song. Then for some reason the song stops completely and goes to this really stupid faux club breakdown. What a party pooper.
9. Dark, industrial beats contrast sharply with James' dulcet vocals. Quite soulful, but with the right amount of sinister.
10. James back to the basics with this simple piano ballad? Again? Of course not. Pitched up choir vocals with a plodding kick drum and sweet, sweet, bass.