12 Songs, 40 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The British electronic pop artist James Blake was showered with attention and nominations in his native land in 2010 and 2011. That’s striking because Blake’s music is truly strange. Drawing on the weirder side of R&B as well as leftfield English dance music, the singer/songwriter crafts spare and spooky gems. On “Unluck,” simple electric piano (evocative of ‘70s Sly & The Family Stone), itchy rhythmic tics, and sound blurts serve as a backdrop as Blake sings, at times through a vocoder. The track sounds like something you would hear while a producer was tinkering with a mix, but here it’s the intriguing end result. One of the album’s singles, “The Wilhelm Scream,” is as lovely as it is eldritch. The catchy melody is surrounded by music that is both minimal and ambient. Blake is capable of all sorts of odd moves: on “I Never Learnt to Share,” a beat doesn’t kick in until the cut is more than half over. One of the album’s highlights is a cover of the Canadian songwriter Feist’s “Limit to Your Love,” which consists of his naked voice, piano, and a haunted atmosphere.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The British electronic pop artist James Blake was showered with attention and nominations in his native land in 2010 and 2011. That’s striking because Blake’s music is truly strange. Drawing on the weirder side of R&B as well as leftfield English dance music, the singer/songwriter crafts spare and spooky gems. On “Unluck,” simple electric piano (evocative of ‘70s Sly & The Family Stone), itchy rhythmic tics, and sound blurts serve as a backdrop as Blake sings, at times through a vocoder. The track sounds like something you would hear while a producer was tinkering with a mix, but here it’s the intriguing end result. One of the album’s singles, “The Wilhelm Scream,” is as lovely as it is eldritch. The catchy melody is surrounded by music that is both minimal and ambient. Blake is capable of all sorts of odd moves: on “I Never Learnt to Share,” a beat doesn’t kick in until the cut is more than half over. One of the album’s highlights is a cover of the Canadian songwriter Feist’s “Limit to Your Love,” which consists of his naked voice, piano, and a haunted atmosphere.

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