Since 2009's "Air & Lack Thereof" single, James Blake has been a quiet revolution. His innovative blend of singer-songwriter sensibilities with dubstep, RnB and soul influences has earned him the adoration of critics and fans alike; and turned the heads of some notable names (namely, Madonna and Kanye West). With 2013’s Overgrown taking out the Mercury Prize and earning Blake Grammy nominations, combined with recent collaborations with the likes of Beyoncé and Chance the Rapper, The Colour in Anything shaped up to be one of the most eagerly anticipated releases of this year. Then, as the clocked ticked over to May 6 (London time) and with little fanfare, it dropped.
Was it worth the wait? Absolutely. Despite running at a formidable 17 tracks and 75 minutes, the album never wavers in its allure. In fact, it’s perhaps the most immediate album of Blake’s career. This is mostly because The Colour in Anything finds him at his most diverse, sonically and emotionally.
The album includes some of his most tender moments, such as “f.o.r.e.v.e.r.” and the Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver) collaboration “I Need a Forest Fire”, one of Blake's best tracks yet. It also features some of his most outlandish cuts, such as “Choose Me”, another highlight. Then there’s the evocative opener “Radio Silence”, with its icy synths and drumbeats and haunting multi-tracked vocals that sing of heartbreak. The album finds a perfect balance between these contrasting moments, and manages to maintain a consistent aesthetic, which is testament to Blake’s laudable production abilities.
Considering how ingenious his previous two LPs have been, it’s difficult to say just which of Blake’s albums is his best. That said, The Colour in Anything makes a solid claim to this title. It’s the sound of an amazing artist at their best, and proves why he is one of the most acclaimed and revered artists of this generation.
The Colour in Anything is out now via Polydor Records and 1-800 Dinosaur. You can catch James Blake in Perth for a Splendour in the Grass sideshow at HBF Stadium on July 30.
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