16 of 44 thought this review was well written
I had high hopes for James Blake. When I discovered he was a "post dubstep" artist, I rejoiced, thinking the world was finally moving beyond those god-awful womping noises. Sadly, this album does not represent a step forward for electronic music, but a massive step backwards. It is quite frankly, a bloated, pretentious mess of spastically assembled noise with just enough actual music thrown in to convince drug-addled electronica fans and moronic critics that Blake has some modicum of talent. It is not "avant garde" or "minimalistic," nor is it the sound of "a man only loosely tethered to earth, now completely letting go;" Blake is merely taking the David Lynch approach and feigning insanity to disguise his incompetence.
The first song I heard from James Blake was "The Wilhelm Scream." It was cool for about three minutes, but then I started to feel like he was playing a cruel joke on me. Why isn't this song changing? Why is the same thing being repeated over and over again? In reality, this song is nothing more than a chorus repeated 10 times. There are some slight variations and changes in dynamics, but at its core, this song is just a chorus repeated 10 times
. Let that sink in for a second. If any other artist did this, they would be labeled as horribly uncreative, but not James Blake. When he does it, it's brilliant "minimalism."
Out of perverse curiosity, I began to check out the other songs from the album. When the vocals kicked in on the opener, "Unluck," I thought it was the squeaky-voiced teen from The Simpsons singing. I always assumed that auto-tune was for making vocals sound better, but here Blake proves auto-tune can be used to make them sound worse. Maybe that is twisted brilliance in a way.
"I Never Learnt To Share" follows the same insipid formula as The Wilhelm Scream, repeating one phrase for 4 and half minutes over a backdrop of noise and random keyboard swells.
"Lindisfarne I" is a downright unbearable "song" consisting of digitalized vocals and clumsily mashed chords. The video depicts some kind of weird, hipster ritual of spit eating, finger sucking, clothes cutting, face painting, group hugs and other random bullishlt. It reminds of that Phish concert I went to one time…
To torture us further, Blake just had to write "Lindisfarne II," which takes the chorus of "beacon don't fly to high" from the first part and, you guessed it, repeats it incessantly. Fortunately, this track is one of the few on the album which resembles an actual song, with a steady beat and passable keyboard motif.
Limit To Your Love sounds like the result of Paul McCartney selling out. and writing a half-assed ballad reneging on The Beatles message of love and unity. This is actually a cover of a Feist song, and not the only cover on the album- The Wilhelm Scream is actually ripped off from the song "Where To Turn" by James Litherland, Blake's father. Chew this one over, Blake fans. The two songs he's receiving the most acclaim for are covers!
Give Me My Month starts off strong with some jazzy piano playing, but is promptly ruined by Blake's vocoder bullshlt. The exact thing happens on To Care (Like You), except in addition to digitized vocals, we have another one of those "vintage Casio keyboard" drumbeats Blake is so fond of using.
I don't even want to comment on the last three tracks, as they have the same problems endemic to the rest of the album. By now, I'm really scratching my head, because I can't figure out whether Blake is trying to be a techno artist or a soul artist. The album feels so conflicted, as if Blake did not try to marry the two genres but rather recorded a bunch of mediocre soul songs and tweaked them with weird effects in Pro Tools.
How anyone finds this listenable is beyond me. The accolades James Blake has received are downright insulting to real musicians, who spend years refining their skills and writing actual songs. I'm almost glad virtuosos like Coltrane and Hendrix are dead, because they sure wouldn't want to live in a world where any dweeb with a laptop can screw around with samples and effects and become an acclaimed "musician."