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Old 03-29-2011, 10:22 AM   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 9
Default James Blake - Self-titled Album Review

It’s difficult not to have preconceptions about James Blake. He landed almost as if from an alien planet, under the scrutinizing gaze of audio-junkies who needed something new. Half turning his back on his dub-step roots to ‘single-handedly’ craft a new genre-post dub.

The first single from his self-titled album nestled cozily into the niche he had promised us, Limit To Your Love, was a stripped back, sub bass injected homage to Feist. More than just a beautiful rendition of an exquisitely written near-masterpiece, Blake’s version represented his shift in influences. Short of causing a civil war, a nation divided into: ‘traditional-Blake-fans,’ ‘new-Blake-fans’ and ‘disgruntled-Feist-fans.’ However, the sheer impact of the song was undeniable, unforeseeable and inexplicably and unyieldingly breathtaking.

The rest of the album however almost couldn’t disappoint in a more epically disastrous fashion, an album predominantly comprised of silence occasionally interrupted by an auto-tuned dribble of lyrical mediocrity. The album does have highlights and the production of CMYK is cause for applause in itself. Unfortunately, before long the track descends once again into what is essentially a thimble of talent trapped in an 8-bit soundcard.

The Bon Iver influence is evident, achingly evident. Had Justin Vernon opted to spend the winter months in, for example, PC world as oppose to an Alaskan log cabin we could have expected this album almost five years ago. Ultimately the lacking element from Blake’s performance is soul. Limit to your love was saturated in a warmth and tenderness that could have saved the remainder of the album from being the miserable collection of heartless and barren shells of self-worship he offers us.

Ultimately, James Blake isn’t a bad album. If it were we could perhaps have forgiven James and looked to the future in the hopes of a more satisfying sequel. No. This album is just disappointing. The hype machine that leeched onto Blake from the first utterance of that Feist cover would ultimately be the very thing that caused the rest of the album to fall short - perhaps our hopes were too high?

Irrespectively, there is no denying that, not only the best, but perhaps only decent track on the album is a cover. No doubt James is a beacon of bright ideas, but when it comes to songwriting, this ‘messiah of the sound of the future’ falls short. Too short.

By Luke De-Sciscio
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