Assume Form

James Blake - Assume Form
Critic Score
Based on 39 reviews
2019 Ratings: #323 / 805
Year End Rank: #35
User Score
2019 Rank: #219
Liked by 178 people
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CRITIC REVIEWS

100
The Telegraph

This dizzyingly romantic album is a beautiful thing to behold.

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 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.

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.

90
Albumism

Assume Form forms a paean both to the specific object of Blake’s affections and the very notion of being in love. And while it feels slightly condensed compared to previous outings, Blake still manages to leave enough room for the beauty in his compositions to shine through like a beacon.

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
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.

84
Resident Advisor
The British artist opens up, both personally and sonically, on his fourth album.
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
Evening Standard
One of the reasons he works so well with others, I suspect, is that as finely wrought as his compositions are, they lack a certain presence — a problem mostly dispelled on his fourth album.
80
Q Magazine
He may not have stepped totally outside his discomfort zone, but Blake here reveals himself as an artist at the peak of his powers.
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
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
Mojo
A progression in Blake's music, his melodies less elusive, his productions less ethereal.
80
DIY
An album that blows James Blake’s musical and personal horizons wide open.
80
musicOMH

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

80
Exclaim!

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

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

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.

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
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
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
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
AllMusic

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

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
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
The Arts Desk
Synthy pop and melody that feels more generic than conceptual.
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.

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.

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
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.

50
Uncut
Attempts to blend leftfield electronica, Broadway balladeering and voguish trap beats are technically impressive but stretch his minimal melodies to [the] breaking point.
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.
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"

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

zachthesnack
77

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

Haise_pi
72

This album signals a significant departure from Blake's prominently abstract, idiosyncratic electronic approach to Pop, Soul and R&B that defined his early work. Here he shifts into a more accessible trap flavoured aesthetic as he teams up with the likes of Travis Scott and Metro Booming.

As a huge fan of his earlier work, I find this quite conflicting as for instance on this album it allows him to stay more focused on a specific sound and tone. His album before this: 'The Colour In ... read more

Achinkurure
100

masterpiece.

thegamingfoo
80

Good but not great. The best songs on here are Mile High and Wheres the catch the worst song on here is are you in love?

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Added on: January 3, 2019