James Blake
Assume Form


2.0
poor

Review

by Sebastian USER (76 Reviews)
January 18th, 2019 | 188 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A James Blake production, rather than a James Blake album.

James Blake always demands your attention. His whole career has been built on creating subtlety from big sounds. Whether it be the slow-burning self-titled, the sombre yet colourful Overgrown, or the melancholic The Colour In Anything, James Blake was never scared to explore vast expanses before stripping them down to the flesh in bones. And it always sounded like James Blake. Which is why Assume Form confuses me so much. Because this isn’t the James Blake I know. The one always pushing the boundaries of minimalism and creating soundscapes from the ground up. On Assume Form, James Blake throws everything at you immediately. It doesn’t build around you. Rather than one cohesive unit, Assume Form feels broken into sections. Which leaves James Blake with an identity crisis, one from which the album doesn’t recover.

Perhaps Blake seems too comfortable with his sound. The addition of strings to much of the album provides some colour, but it’s mostly used to mask songs containing sounds already well-tread. ‘I’ll Come Too’ sounds like a The Colour In Anything B-side that was left off the album for obvious reasons; a grating sample that can’t take away from the subpar lyrics (I’m gonna say what I need/If it’s the last thing I do); and it isn’t even the worst offender. Much of Assume Form struggles to cope beneath the boring trap-inspired drum beats, and coupled with some of James Blake’s worst lyrics, it results in an unrewarding listen. Take ‘Power On’ for example:

I thought sex was at my pace, but I was wrong
I thought it mattered more I'd say, but I was wrong
I thought you were second place to every song
I thought you'd overstayed your welcome
I was wrong, power on, power on


These drab lyrics, mixed over a distracting bass line, leaves the listener struggling to maintain interest. The most off-putting parts of the album, however, are by-far the two rap-based tracks. ‘Mile High’, featuring Travis Scott and Metro Boomin, follows the boring minimalistic trap formula, with one or two samples floating above the track. Blake sounds uninterested and abandons the building aspect of his music for a cookie-cutter trap track. The same applies to ‘Tell Them’ featuring Metro Boomin and Moses Sumney. They both lack enough substance to be anything more than James Blake furthering his rap production career. The complete rejection of anything interesting leaves them feeling like James Blake productions, rather than James Blake [I[tracks[/i]. It's odd, then, that 'Where's The Catch' actually feels like a James Blake track updated for his current sound. It ebbs and flows out of different sounds, and the Andre 3000 feature melds perfectly with the track. But it can't be denied that everything feels too James Blake the producer than James Blake the artist.

And that’s exactly what Assume Form feels like. A James Blake production. Which is odd, considering ‘Don’t Miss It’, one of the best James Blake singles in a long time, made the final cut. But on the album, it feels so out-of-place and loses the magic it initially had upon release. And closer ‘Lullaby for My Insomniac’ drags on far too long for doing so little. At times, the minimal production does make a comeback, such as on ‘Are You In Love’, but Assume Form keeps throwing it away without doing anything worthy of mentioning. It never settles on what it wants to be, and personifies a listen full of confusion and disappointment.

2/5



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user ratings (198)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
Kirk Bowman CONTRIBUTOR (3.5)
now you can feel everything...

BlushfulHippocrene STAFF (2.5)
...

Lewis STAFF (4.2)
I pull up, hop out, air out, made it look sexy...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Drubbi
January 17th 2019


298 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Maybe I think it's worse because I rate James Blake so highly, but it all just feels so, well, below-average.

Digging: Little Simz - GREY Area

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 17th 2019


15065 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I could endure 1 minute of t/t. Not even gonna rate it. Fuck it. Pos.

Digging: Deafkids - Metaprogramao

ellagos
January 17th 2019


218 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I can agree that lyrically this is his weakest but I think the production on those Metro Boomin tracks is so gorgeous I can go without a bit of his usual emotional resonance

Halfman
January 17th 2019


232 Comments


"Which leaves James Blake with an identity crisis, one from which the album doesn’t recover from." doesn't need both "from"s.

well written concise review, but i'm really hoping i disagree with your opinion. lol

hal1ax
January 18th 2019


13292 Comments


exceedingly bogan cover

Drubbi
January 18th 2019


298 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Fixed, cheers for that.



Just feels so boring compared to his other stuff.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
January 18th 2019


41691 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It amuses me that leading up to this it seems like Sputnik collectively decided they didn't like James Blake anymore



I hope I disagree but good review m8

Digging: Edyth - Bare II

Ev1lToaster
January 18th 2019


185 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Never cared much for the guy outside of his exemplary debut and a couple really solid eps back from the 00s

GreyShadow
January 18th 2019


2931 Comments


4 tracks in. can't tell if I liked the title track or not...it had it's parts.

Did not like Mile High earlier today, don't even want to finish it now.

Tell Them was pretty decent

and I enjoyed Into The Red quite a bit. here's hoping the songs stay at this level of quality

Digging: Blaqk Audio - Only Things We Love

Lucman
January 18th 2019


2111 Comments


This is that bad, huh? Was quite interested in hearing this but maybe I'll put it on the backburner to hear his other work first.

Digging: Emily Scott Robinson - Traveling Mercies

GreyShadow
January 18th 2019


2931 Comments


I feel like I'm the only one that doesn't care much for his debut...well at least half of his debut. after Lindisfarne it's kinda whatever to me. Overgrown is the most consistent but I think his best work is on TCIA despite there definitely being a good handful of filler

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
January 18th 2019


41403 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8 | Sound Off

lmao yeah the collective disgust with this album is pretty funny (it seems to be doing well on other sites) but yeah it's not good

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 18th 2019


15065 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

we real here

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
January 18th 2019


18541 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

this isn't half bad so far

Digging: Godley and Creme - L

GreyShadow
January 18th 2019


2931 Comments


Into The Red and Barefoot in the Park were the only ones I really liked throughout.
Can't Believe... through Where's the Catch were all pretty good.
The rest isn't bad but they all just feel a bit...confusing?

Definitely the most different of his albums.

bigguytoo9
January 18th 2019


554 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I am actually enjoying this record.

Arcade
Staff Reviewer
January 18th 2019


122 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

It amuses me that leading up to this it seems like Sputnik collectively decided they didn't like James Blake anymore



Uh huh



Album’s hot

Digging: Chief Keef - GloToven

Drubbi
January 18th 2019


298 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

hot garbage!

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
January 18th 2019


15065 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

[2]

TwigTW
January 18th 2019


3657 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

listening now. This sounds like a step down to me, but a 2 seems a bit harsh. He's definitely aiming for a larger mainstream audience with this one.

Digging: Jungstotter - Love Is



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