James Blake – you must be fucking joking

James-Blake-Overgrown

I’ve put off writing this review for a long time, because I really, really, wanted to like this album. So I listened to this over and over again, trying to convince myself that there must be some worth in it. But you know what? It’s still a huge yawn.

I hardly need to recap James Blake’s career for anybody reading this. The teenage dubstep producer and Mount Kimbie collaborator who came out of nowhere with his “Air and the Lack Thereof” track, and then reinvented himself as a singer-songwriter for his debut album and moved even further into traditional instrumentation with his “Enough Thunder” EP and its Joni Mitchell cover. I loved all of it, and thought he was one of the biggest talents of the whole post-dubstep diaspora. Eager to see how he had developed further, I snapped up this cd when I happened to be in London the day it was released. Excited reviews and collaborations with Brian Eno and the RZA only whetted my appetite further.

What a goddamn disappointment.

This record basically marks James Blake’s transition into bland, middle-of-the-road pap.  There’s almost no harsh edge to anything here, just boring as hell drum machine beats that sound like they’re lifted from some 80s crooner like Black. Speaking of crooning, Blake’s voice really suited the jagged electronics of the debut album, but he is nowhere near his purported idol Stevie Wonder and shouldn’t even try.

As for the collaborations, the track with Brian Eno is one of the better things on here but would be completely forgettable in any other context. The track with the RZA sounds like some juvenile indie/hip-hop crossover from a decade ago that we’re all trying to forget.

I’m so disgusted with this record I’m not even going to post a track from it. If you want to know what it sounds like, you might as well listen to this instead:

Instead, I highly recommend you remember James Blake as he used to be:

There’s a new Mount Kimbie album coming out in a week or two. I really hope it doesn’t fucking suck like this.

 

 

 

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