James Blake

James Blake

New Radiohead album or no, February 2011 will no doubt go down as one of the strongest musical months of the year, thanks in no small part to Londoner James Blake. Falling somewhere between Kanye’s recent masterpiece, Bon Iver’s For Emma opus, and David Gray’s über-accessible Life in Slow Motion, James Blake the album is a dizzying mix of computer-made beats, loop pedals, and Auto-Tuned vocals. Sonically, Blake draws equally from the worlds of experimental pop and hip-hop, and heavily from that quickly burgeoning underground known as dub step. Still, what shines brightest here is the lyricism. Lead single “The Wilhelm Scream” is an atmospheric and subtle mix of beats and found sounds, brought to new heights with Blake’s sultry voice and fragile message. Elsewhere (“Limit to Your Love,” “Measurements”), themes of insecurity and confusion rear their heads again, and help make Blake the most emotive and immediate voice we’ve heard in a long time.

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