Home Music QUICKSPINS: James Blake – Friends That Break Your Heart

QUICKSPINS: James Blake – Friends That Break Your Heart

by Guillaume Laberge October 18, 2021
QUICKSPINS: James Blake – Friends That Break Your Heart

Friends That Break Your Heart  is a continuation of the sound he was surfing on his last record, Assume Form

James Blake is one of the more interesting names in the pop and R&B field. His last record, Assume Form, was a big departure from the sound that first got Blake onto the scene. Despite being a popular figure in the genre, the enigmatic singer approaches the style in a way that stands out from your average artist, blending elements of electronic music and R&B in a refreshingly experimental form.

Friends That Break Your Heart is an intimate listen that all starts with the gorgeous opener “Famous Last Words.” This song sees Blake opening up about a relationship that ended, feeling like he should have forgotten about that person by now. This is accompanied by a stellar instrumental, with an absolutely breathtaking string progression at the end.

Blake’s self-titled debut veers more towards the experimental while including esoteric sound clips in a Björk kind of way. This might not be for everyone at first but once you get used to it, it’s actually quite pleasant. Friends That Break Your Heart borrows a lot of trendier elements that are easier on the ears. The production of the record is extremely atmospheric with songs such as “Life Is Not The Same” and “I’m So Blessed You’re Mine,” showcasing Blake’s somber and more ominous instrumentals. The Metro Boomin produced “Foot Forward” is also another cool highlight with its bouncy piano chords. These production choices instantly captivates listeners into his own world. It truly feels like it has been meticulously assembled in a genuinely delicate way with every single sound on the record having its own purpose.

Blake’s voice also adds a lot to the experience and his vocals throughout the album can be described in two words: hauntingly beautiful. His rich and high-pitched delivery provides a profound sentiment of melancholy, and when this is paired with his lyrics about losing friends, it all makes for one truly magnificent experience.

This album doesn’t have a lot of features, but the few that are included all enrich the overall experience. Blake has a knack for choosing quality artists to be on his songs, and this album makes no exception. From the likes of SZA on the utterly pleasing “Coming Back,” or even JID and SwaVay on “Frozen,” both delivering explosive verses — they all add up to the overall experience of the album.

Friends That Break Your Heart is a breath of fresh air in the mainstream pop and R&B branch and is one truly hypnotizing listen that you will come back to more often than not. Ten years after the release of his first album, this is definitely his best album to date.

 

Trial track : “Coming Back”

Score : 8/10

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