Over the last decade, James Blake has proven himself as one of the most captivating and engaging producers working today. His mixture of warm and sweeping compositions and ethereal vocal style has given him a sound that is hard to compare. But while his earliest work focused on this vein entirely, he has spent much of the last few years diving into the hip-hop world, collaborating with the likes of Travis Scott, Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Dave, slowthai and many more in order to progress his direction into a far different avenue. But for his fifth full-length 'Friends That Break Your Heart', he is returning to his formative roots with effortless flair.
From the very start, 'Friend That Break Your Heart' establishes itself as one of his more humbled records to date. While normally one to pursue a more adventurous and pulsing direction in recent times, this new collection looks to revive his formative self and deliver a weary batch of laid-back swoons that are more about rediscovery of roots than advancing further into the unknown. While there still remains the odd contemporary RnB-inspired cut on this new effort, they are seldom seen and tend to offer more of a respite between Blake's more atmospheric works.
While there is still plenty of original and distinctive ideas on here, 'Friends That Break Your Heart' just doesn't have that same instant appeal we have heard from him lately. It still remains a strong and enjoyable moment in his catalogue to date, but doesn't quite live up to the quality and ingenuity we have heard from him recently.