James Blake purists, rejoice!
James Blake has clearly taken a liking to the “surprise drop” approach to LPs. Although speculation about new tracks had been circulating for some time prior to any announcement, the two weeks’ notice that came with Blake’s official album tease still took many by delighted surprise. With the likes of Travis Scott and André 3000 supporting this latest work, the short-but-sweet hype around the record was understandably heightened. Fans have now had over two weeks to digest “Assume Form,” a record that brings Blake back to some of his more experimental roots while still managing to capture our hearts with infectious hooks.
Blake’s previous release, “The Colour in Anything,” struck a balance between the experimental nature of his debut and the spacey piano ballads of “Overgrown.” While fans of Blake’s more ballad-like tracks, whose numbers one can only assume to be few, may not find any silver bullet here, disregarding this release would be a complete mistake. Blake still strikes a balance between two styles: experimental electronic and hip-hop. Fans of his debut record will be especially overjoyed by the glitchy nature of “Assume Form”right from the opening title track. Meanwhile, fans of Blake’s foray into hip-hop producing will also be more than satisfied with tracks like “Mile High,” featuring Travis Scott and a hauntingly beautiful atmosphere. This track will no doubt be played on repeat in the headphones of every Blake follower and many casual listeners as well.
“Where’s The Catch?” featuring André 3000 lives up to the hype of André’s appearance on the record, combining the best of Blake’s glitch elements with André’s punctual flow. “Barefoot in the Park” is another stand-out track, with the addition of Spanish artist Rosalía and her beautiful vocal lines, adding even more variety to a stellar LP. Two tracks that especially stand out on this record are “I’ll Come Too” and “Power On,” which hold significantly more lyrical weight than some of Blake’s work before. On “I’ll Come Too,” Blake has finally found a ray of light in all the gloominess of his previous work, singing about the subtle joys of a trusting relationship. Then, on “Power On,” Blake reveals troubling thoughts about his previous outlook on life and how his newfound love has moved him past it all. The first line of the song is, quite literally, “I thought I might be better dead, but I was wrong ...” While always full of emotion, Blake’s lyrics up until now have been more or less submerged in metaphors or hints. This appears to be the first time Blake has written something so direct it may give loyal fans a jolt at first, but the end result is wholly satisfying.
“Assume Form” takes Blake back to his roots while simultaneously moving forward into a deeper appreciation of hip-hop. With a well-rounded mix of catchy tunes and intriguing experimental pieces, Blake’s latest release is a must-hear for any curious listener.