Into The Red
Barefoot In The Park
Can’t Believe The Way We Flow
Are You In Love?
Where’s The Catch?
I’ll Come Too
Don’t Miss It
Lullaby For My Insomniac
Now onto his fourth studio album, Assume Form showcases an in-form James Blake; firing on all cylinders with 12 impressively produced and poignant tracks. Weaving a blend of thoughtful lyrics with a tightly refined collaborative effort with different guest stars, Assume Form is an intelligently written album, one that only gets better with repeat listens.
Beginning with the self-titled Assume Form, the first track snatches you up and takes you on a musical journey through Indie, Electronica and Hip-Hop influenced pop. The ambient, moody instrumentals complement James’ lyrical prowess perfectly and there’s a harmony here between the vocals and production that really brings the best out of this album.
There’s a real crispness to the vocals too, with a minimal use of distortion and reverb to really get the best out of this talented vocalist’s range. Although there are a few songs that utilize the dreaded auto-tune, the effect is minimal at best and easy to look past. The use of electronic instruments is a nice inclusion though and there’s an almost discordant feel to some of the tracks but the way these fade into the background, giving way to James Blake’s vocals ultimately overshadow any issues here.
The album showcases a really interesting musical journey too, constantly evolving into different genres and tones throughout the 12 tracks. What begins as a slow-paced vocal ride suddenly slams into hard-hitting hip hop before exploring some interesting musical arrangements and closing out on the reflective and lyrically poignant Lullaby For My Insomniac.
There are a few stand out tracks here including Into The Red and Barefoot In The Park but Andre 3000’s guest appearance on Where’s The Catch is really the brightest star in a glittery backdrop of individual triumphs. The hard-hitting beat works in-sync with Andre’s rapping and as the album heats up, Blake’s smooth vocals soothe the burn and mellow the album back into pleasant pop-fuelled waters.
Assume Form is the sort of album that benefits from repeat listens too. As a straight forward journey from start to finish, the album does well to keep the tone feeling fresh and original throughout. Upon listening to different tracks again with a fresh pair of ears, you really get a sense of the scale and ambition the album strives for (and mostly achieves). The subtle echoes of different genres, the great vocals and tight productions all combine to make Assume Form the best album of 2019 so far and a tough one to beat going forward.
Verdict - 9/10