“James Blake” – James Blake
To some people “James Blake” sounds like an excuse of clicks and sounds with simple and mundane lyrical structure and lack of any true emphasis. In reality it is a wonderfully crafted work of art with a mixture of music and sound making this a one of a kind album. This is a genuine and uniquely distinctive sound that is a mix of an array of musical equipment with tones and pitches that are uncommon in music.
“James Blake,” is an album which is fairly hard to describe and has no other album or band that sounds similar to it in style. Though I am going to attempt to describe some songs as best as I can and give you an idea as to what to expect from this album, recall that this album is one which is fairly open to interpretation.
This album is dark and gritty with the twists and turns that only take it into a darker and more profound horrid world. Other songs are tranquil and peaceful which soothe the listener like “Measurements,” which are just lyrics, a piano, and a synth. The lyrics and voice are soft with vocals from James Blake which demonstrate that he is a talented singer. “Why Don’t You Call Me,” starts off with a simple piano and the most serenating lyrics on this album. The lyrics stay the same as the track progresses but the piano cuts off at parts and the vocals get distorted and haunting. There is an echo in the background as the vocals become more chilling and the pianos distortions add to the already eerie sensation.
In other songs though, the use of auto tune forces him to fluctuate his voice from different pitches making it sound poorly executed. Not only that but the effort of some songs seems miniscule and reflects in the tracks as a total. “Lindisfarne II” is a perfect example in which the voice quality sounds a bit edgy, and not in a good way. The track feels fairly superficial and is only a few more beats and noises more than “Lindisfarne I.”
Other than that, the songs are composed of different instruments and synths which make an unorganized and mismatching sound with lyrics that are also off pitch and rhythm from the song. “I Never Learnt to Share,” is a song which follows this scheme and has the simplest lyrics repeating the same few word for nearly four minutes. The song its self sounds like a mix of sounds made on a simple music creator, but even with this, it still sound and feels like it holds a structure.
“The Wilhelm Scream,” is the single of this album starting with a simple synth and drum beat. The vocals start off with a slight echo and the lyrics are also not complex. It begins to pick up and other instruments jump in making the song a bit darker. As the song nears its end the song sound like is submerged and the vocals echo in the distance. The entire song is a build which ends on a soft note.
Though it is not a single, the track, “To Care (Like You),” is a track which sums up James Blake. It has the standard formula which he has created and sounds which he is now known for. It is a build in which he uses his fluctuating vocals and auto tune to make an interesting and vibrant sound. The haunting and surreal vocals make this track one which would be pictured in the apex of a horror film. It is a song which is haunting rejecting the affection of someone by saying, “Well I wish I could have known. I wish I could have known. How easy it. Was to care like you. Protest too much?” Also in “Limit to Your Love,” he repeats the same scheme as before only to sound completely different than some of his other songs. The dark open-ended reverb strikes and echoes as his echoed lyrics resonate in a pulsating rhythm throughout the song. There is hard bass line through the song which just keeps throbbing and stops during the “chorus.” The song is simple but has a defined sound which makes it truly the masterpiece of this album. It is a song, not merely a compilation of rhythmic whistles and beats which could be appreciated by those who are not fans of the artist. The lyrics are refined and unlike the other tracks serve a purpose. The subject is self-titled which says, “There’s a limit to your love. Like a waterfall in slow motion. Like a map with no ocean. There’s a limit to your love. Your love, your love, your love.” The song creates a deep meaning and has some familiarity to listeners as the beats end the song as they fade away. Upon its release in the UK it became a hit and is what escalated his career there making him capable of releasing an EP entitled, “Love What Happened Here,” which was release on December 6th of last year.
This album is not for everyone and is a two sided sword, you will either like it as well as see it as a new direction for music or you will despise it for clicks and an abuse of reverb and synth. I have much appreciation and respect for this album even though it was given mixed reviews. The process for which the review works for most outlets is broken down into an array of factors which when added up give their overall score. “James Blake,” is an album which is creative, unique, and pushes music to a different horizon, but with that, it is not enjoyed by everyone. I strongly suggest you listen to his work and judge the album for yourself. It could open up some emotion and sway you knowing that… “There’s a limit to you care. So carelessly there.”