On his 2011 debut, James Blake was a bedroom beat maestro with soul-singer ambitions: a composer of beautiful, somewhat blurry songlets that were spangled with dubstep bass groans and glitchy electronics. His new album marks a shift: Blake has toned down the twitchiness and concentrated on the tunes. "Retrograde" is a surging torch ballad; "Our Love Comes Back" is a shuddering plea for rekindled romance. Blake's music is still a bit out of focus. He sings in a pretty, dusky warble, but often doesn't enunciate his lyrics; he's less a songwriter than a conjurer of melodies. But at its finest, Blake's mood music has some magic in it. It holds you in its spell.
From The Archives Issue 1181: April 25, 2013