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Monday, September 30, 2013

James Blake -- James Blake

 photo James_Blake_Cover_zps1b710617.jpg

I can't remember any debut album in recent memory with as much pre-release hype as this one. Google the phrase "pitchfork james blake wunderkind" and look at how many links you get. I love Pitchfork so very, very much. Anyway, you'd think James Blake was releasing thirty-eight minutes of musical tones that could raise the dead. Actually, his self-titled debut is just a decent album.
James Blake is really quiet stuff. Despite his reputation as some type of electronic pop person, this album features an equal amount of Blake sitting and singing alone at a keyboard in Chris Martin piano-recital mode. Otherwise, he's making a bunch of quiet bloops and bleeps and digitally altering and layering his voice over them. When this came out, there was supposed to be some kind of "quiet revolution" going on in music that this guy was at the forefront of. I don't know if that revolution ever panned out or even existed, unless you count Justin Timberlake making fun of Bon Iver's snoozeworthy performance on SNL. With all that said, the best parts of James Blake certainly don't stem from the quiet monotony that can sometimes plague the album. They come from the moments Blake actually turns up the volume a little, as on his rumbly cover of Feist's "Limit to Your Love," the sweeping fog of "The Wilhelm Scream," or the giddy build up and seismic shift of "I Never Learnt to Share." Those are the album's most enjoyable and lasting moments, and here's to more of them.

2011 ATLAS/A&M/Polydor
1. Unluck 3:00
2. The Wilhelm Scream 4:37
3. I Never Learnt to Share 4:51
4. Lindisfarne I 2:42
5. Lindisfarne II 3:01
6. Limit to Your Love 4:36
7. Give Me My Month 1:56
8. To Care (Like You) 3:52
9. Why Don't You Call Me + 1:35
10. I Mind 3:31
11. Measurements 4:19

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