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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

James Blake - James Blake (2011)

Band: James Blake
Country: London, UK
Style: Art Pop/Dubstep
Label: ATLAS/A&M

After releasing several fairly high-profile EPs last year, James Blake has finally released his debut full-length. Despite being a young artist, this album has already been called one of the most anticipated for this year. With all the hype that was pumping this album up to be, as well as the Feist cover that he released, I could see what others were seeing.
This album has been described by people as something of a mix of Antony and The Johnsons, Radiohead, and Hall and Oates, which I don't really get too much from. Sure the electronics on here come from Blake's background in the dubstep genre, while his voice does have a more emotional and almost eccentric feeling at times, I can't see the three artists above as being any more than influences. But the dubstep sound of his past doesn't really overwhelm this album, with the two first singles, the Fiest cover Limit to Your Love and Whilhelms Scream, being more minimalistic in terms of the usual assault that I usually receive from dubstep; but that's not to say that there aren't tracks on here that make use of more beat-heavy and abstract sounds, hear . In fact, when speaking of the minimal sounds on here Lindesfarne I is very cold and empty sounding, remaining very stark, even for this album, being made up of almost nothing besides Blake's vocoder voice.
When it comes to Blake's voice though, I actually really like it. Being a fan of old crooning styled vocals, hence why I like Antony and The Johnsons, but more like Tony Bennett or the more avant-garde Scott Walker, I really found Blake's voice to really strike that chord that only that type of singing gets me. While his vocals on here are quite emotional, he manages to layer himself in different way to really bring new sounds into a given track, like the vocoder on opener Unluck or the weird keyboard morphing vocals on I Mind. Blake also makes use of his piano playing skills by tickling the ivory on a few tracks as well, besides the cover, hear tracks like Give Me My Month or Why Don't You Call Me.
Overall, this is a really solid album with a lot to like about it, though I've already read several negative comments regarding this album, I still really like it. I'm not saying this is a masterpiece in any way, it certainly has it's flaws, but I'd say the good out-ways the bad on here. If you like minimal electronic music with a nice sort or crooning vocalist, check this out.
Overall Score: 8
Highlights: Wilhellms Scream, I Never Learnt to Share, Give Me My Month

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