Assume Form

James Blake - Assume Form
Critic Score
Based on 33 reviews
2019 Ratings: #221 / 551
User Score
2019 Ratings: #150
January 18, 2019 / Release Date
LP / Format
Polydor / Label
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CRITIC REVIEWS

100
The Independent

Oh, the weather outside is frightful. And the politics sure got spiteful. But the good news is that the perma-brilliant James Blake has flooded his fourth album – Assume Form – with euphoric sepia soul and loved-up doo-wop.

100
NME

The first five-star album of 2019! Proof that James Blake is one of the world’s greatest producers, this loved-up fourth record, featuring Andre 3000 and Travis Scott, sees him finally in control as a brilliant songwriter and emotive lyricist

100
The Telegraph

This dizzyingly romantic album is a beautiful thing to behold.

91
Consequence of Sound

Blake hasn’t lost his love of percussion, and his gift for melody seems without limit. This is Blake at his most focused, stripped of electronic frills, and down to his emotional underwear.

91
Entertainment Weekly

On his new album Assume Form, Blake abandons that piercing despair — though not his emotional vulnerability — by choosing romance over sorrow.

86
Northern Transmissions

Assume Form closes his first decade with a vulnerable and gracious note. While his general “sad boy” electropop is still the sonic skeleton of the twelve tracks, his message has wizened into a more grateful introspection, resting on the back of what is essentially a collection of blissful love songs.

84
Resident Advisor
The British artist opens up, both personally and sonically, on his fourth album.
84
Sputnikmusic

He has found a confidence to use this palette to express more complex notions of his self, to enrich his life and command his ascension into the popular lexicon.

80
The Guardian

Assume Form feels like Blake opening out, adding fresh, noticeably brighter colours to his palette. Whether or not a smidge more commerciality turns this album into the kind of hit he was predicted to have at the start of the decade, it is immensely pleasing to witness an artist who seemed to be at a dead end now moving forward.

80
DIY
An album that blows James Blake’s musical and personal horizons wide open.
80
NOW Magazine

Assume Form doesn’t have the instant gratification of his 2013 album, Overgrown – arguably his best – but it gradually pulls you in like a soothing balm. Blake builds sonic worlds that are heavily distorted, jarring and abrasively unnatural, but on this album he’s pared down his more experimental tendencies for a safer, more palatable sound.

80
musicOMH

Blake uses the creative freedom to his advantage throughout Assume Form, his fourth record and his most diverse.

80
GIGsoup
James Blake has returned with an emotive and introspective work that combines his warm layered vocals with trap beats and jazzy chords to create, overall, a very well-rounded album.
80
God Is in the TV

Assume Form makes the gap between Blake and his listeners even smaller, allowing him to open himself to take the handle on his own narrative. It’s a record of contrasts; of blending the dark with an ever-growing light; of wrestling with the demons that hold us back as human beings and, eventually, hopefully, winning.

80
Exclaim!

No longer masked by double exposure, deep blues and greys, Assume Form is Blake coming into focus.

75
Pretty Much Amazing

Assume Form, despite the handsome ghost-of-a-smile on the LP sleeve, doesn’t introduce a more colorful palette for Blake.

75
The Line of Best Fit
The smoke and mirrors have vanished as James Blake releases his most direct album yet.
75
A.V. Club

Though it fits in a trajectory we couldn’t see until it was complete, Assume Form is the only kind of album our most saturnine tastemaker could surprise us with: an ordinary one, conversant with idioms of its day, fixing intelligible emotions on a real-life beloved.

75
The 405

Sonically, Assume Form might be James Blake's most approachable album to date, but its emotions are anything but simple. These are less “love songs” and more “James Blake’s love songs.”

70
Clash
While his singular vision is to be admired, it comes at the expense of variation – the sedate pace remains constant, as if it’s building up to something that never quite gets started.
70
AllMusic

At times, the changes feel experimental and uneven, but when they connect, the shifting perspectives of Assume Form are refreshing.

70
The Needle Drop

Despite being bookended by a few awkward detours, Assume Form contains James Blake's best writing and production since the earlier part of this decade.

70
Drowned in Sound
There’s also a noticeably heavier leaning towards hip hop and R&B production than previously, with the end result being a perfect blend of avant-garde ambience and bass-heavy, head-nodding beats. It’s a super classy effort.
70
Tiny Mix Tapes

Blake’s art has always thrived on dislocation, on bridging tension and consonance ... It sometimes gets abandoned on Assume Form, which, to its detriment, sometimes assumes cohesion as an end to form, rather than tension as a pathway to feeling.

70
No Ripcord

Blake’s ability to both appease and innovate makes for an always transfixing, if occasionally frustrating, album experience.

65
XLR8R

It’s an inconsistent album, indicating an artist who was once at the vanguard of a new sound becoming just one voice among many others like it. No longer the singer-songwriter of the future, he’s now simply a modern writer of songs. Thankfully, as shown in glimpses here, he’s still pretty good at it.

60
The Observer
A love letter to his partner brimming with guest spots and west-coast vibes, James Blake’s fourth LP is a long way from his ‘blubstep’ roots.
60
Crack Magazine

On Assume Form, he’s tried to seal up the leaks and make everything solid, but he doesn’t have all the right pieces.

60
Under The Radar

Assume Form is surely a shift toward a more optimistic Blake, but occasionally at the cost of song quality and his expected moments of spicy originality. It's a good, sometimes excellent, yet quite uneven record.

60
Highsnobiety

Despite the best of intentions, the majority of Assume Form does indeed congeal, becoming a half-cooked, overwrought mess when it has seemingly everything going for it.

58
Pitchfork

There’s a suffocating seriousness that runs through the singer and producer’s fourth album, one that bogs down genuine moments of levity and love.

50
Loud and Quiet
The 12 tracks don’t precisely chronicle the Londoner’s newly opened emotions but there’s a quickening of the musical pulse that replaces his erstwhile glacial crawl with a sound approximating soulful warmth.
50
Spectrum Culture

It’s a well-curated, 48-minute album of frequently annoying pop that’s just self-serious enough so you know you’re listening to someone who used to be weird.

JoaoSantos
51
This record makes me so mad. There's part of this that sound so amazing but other times you just get this super boring vocals with a generic trap beat and I just ask myself "WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT???".

Edit: After giving this more listens, I can say that I've realized how uninteresting this actually is. It's a boring album with some interesting elements of production but it has some horrible moments too. The generic trap beats and the lifeless vocals just turn this into something that ... read more
AZIZ
85
An early 2019 AOTY candidate.

This album is a culmination of Blake's many years of hard work and it finally pays off in his most beautiful project yet.

I haven't felt this fuzzy inside since Father John Misty's "I Love You Honeybear"

Assume Form (4.5/5)
Mile High (5/5)
Tell Them (5/5)
Into The Red (4.5/5)
Barefoot In The Park (4.5/5)
Can’t Believe The Way We Flow (3/5)
Are You In Love? (4/5)
Where’s The Catch? (5/5)
I’ll Come Too (4.5/5)
Power On ... read more
Cyd
79
That 3000 feature makes me believe there’s a God
zachthesnack
84
Good God this thing is absolutely stunning!!

Blake's vocal range is insane as always and blends seamlessly with top teir production and songwriting to make and epic and dreamy collection of ballads about love, heartbreak and just life in general.

The features on this thing are incredible as well. Travis Scott sounds better to me on this album then he did on pretty much all of Astroworld and that's saying a lot because he sounded really really good on Astroworld.

Metro Boomin absolutely kicks ... read more
matteo
70
His best since S/T. There's no one song that screams "instant classic" like "Retrograde" or "Limit to Your Love" but every song is solid, the guests are all on point, and (most pleasant surprise) this James Blake album is *actually fun to listen to*. While Andre 3000 and ROSALIA steal the show on their respective features (to the point where you might forget this is a James Blake album), JB also has some beautiful showcases for himself on "Into the Red" ... read more
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Track List

  1. Assume Form
  2. Mile High (Feat. Travis Scott & Metro Boomin)
  3. Tell Them (Feat. Moses Sumney & Metro Boomin)
  4. Into The Red
  5. Barefoot In The Park (Feat. Rosalía)
  6. Can’t Believe The Way We Flow
  7. Are You In Love?
  8. Where’s The Catch? (Feat. André 3000)
  9. I’ll Come Too
  10. Power On
  11. Don’t Miss It
  12. Lullaby For My Insomniac
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Added on: January 3, 2019