James Blake - Overgrown
Critic Score
Based on 36 reviews
2013 Ratings: #39 / 952
Year End Rank: #20
User Score
Based on 605 ratings
2013 Ratings: #23
April 8, 2013 / Release Date
LP / Format
Republic / Label
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CRITIC REVIEWS

100
The Line of Best Fit

With a work of such stark emotional beauty, Blake has picked up the torch once again with Overgrown.  In the end, you judge a musical journey by your own emotional response, and mine was blown wide open.

100
The Guardian

The abiding mood of James Blake's second album may be one of melancholy, but in every track there is a glinting nib of beauty wound into the melody or set at odds to it, something to cling on to.

92
Sputnikmusic

The record focuses much more on soul-laden balladry than anything else, showing off Blake's improved songwriting skills while casting a spotlight on his angelic tenor.

91
A.V. Club

James Blake’s talent is in his ability to smoothly synthesize disparate influences; his willingness to grow and develop while doing so is fascinating and frequently rapturous.

90
The 405

It's just as exciting as we've come to expect from him, and as forward-thinking as ever. 

90
musicOMH

Overgrown is a triumph. It is evidence of James Blake forging his own singular musical path, free from hype and expectation, and blossoming into both a producer of real compositional skill and a songwriter of great depth.

90
AllMusic

Though the stormy textures and somber reflections are pretty specific to a particular mood, Overgrown finds and fits that mood perfectly. While it might take listeners a few spins to find the right head space for the album, once they get there, it's an easy place to get lost in.

90
No Ripcord

The bottom line is, Overgrown is an unforgettable album by a limitlessly talented songwriter who, at 24 years old, may just be beginning to approach his prime.

90
Resident Advisor

With only drums, bass and a sprinkle of reverb propping up his voice, Blake puts himself out there as he hasn't previously. The result is bone-chillingly gorgeous, right down to the feverish burst of pop strings that accompanies the final choruses. 

90
FasterLouder

Overgrown holds together beautifully, managing to cohere without wilting into monotony. Given how eclectic the album is, it’s a hell of a trick.

90
Clash

‘Overgrown’ remains closer knit, and paradoxically less fragmented than its illustrious predecessor, ideas rotating core values guided by an affirmatively unseen hand. Which ultimately makes this an even better record.

90
Loud and Quiet

It’s tempting to say that this is a headphones album, but that would be reductive; regardless of context, Blake’s intricate, layered achievement is remarkable.

85
Beats Per Minute

While James Blake felt aloof, even ahuman, Overgrown is packed with feeling, and releases it with the smallest of gestures. While its title suggests excess, this is a nuanced move towards accessibility.

83
Pretty Much Amazing

Overgrown is not the enigma that was his debut, but rather it is a first-rate album from a musician that isn’t all that interested in being enigmatic.  

80
Drowned in Sound

Far more than with his first album Overgrown is focused upon his songwriting rather than his technology, and it’s much stronger for it.

80
FACT Magazine

For all the newfound confidence and scope of these songs, they are still best viewed as dub versions of themselves: inversions of pop forms trading in negative space and decay, implication rather than exposition.

80
Tiny Mix Tapes

Overgrown is a remarkable effort from an artist who continues to do things his own way, regardless of the consequences.

80
NME

It’s not an easy listen, but it may just be one of the most nuanced, soothing and adventurous of 2013. 

80
Pitchfork

Overgrown is not as wall-to-wall great as his debut, but fans of the first LP will still find much to admire. The most promising development is his indulged fondness for various permutations of R&B and gospel styles

80
Consequence of Sound

James Blake may lose some fans with the tamer, more sultry sounds of Overgrown. But he’s going to gain a lot more. Without the cut-and-paste dubstep, his music suddenly becomes quite radio friendly

80
The Fly

He’s absorbed new influences into the unique framework he creates around his songs, pulling in aspects of house, gospel and R&B to create something alluringly strange yet pleasingly palpable.

80
Slant Magazine

Blessed with a strange, ethereal voice, he could easily excel at music that matches its dulcet tones, but the pungent mixtures of high and low he concocts end up being far more thrilling.

80
Billboard

Blake takes a left turn with “Overgrown” and embraces a love for beautiful chords and moody atmospherics. It’s a more consistent album than his debut -- for better and for worse.

80
NOW Magazine

On Overgrown, the chord progressions are more complex and the lyrics less abstracted, but it's still the James Blake we love.

75
Under The Radar

While Blake hasn't attempted anything startlingly new on Overgrown, he's certainly still the master of his own musical vocabulary—effortlessly compounding dark and nebulous electronic production with a soul, gospel, and R&B aesthetic.

70
Spin

Overgrown's biggest fault is lack of quality control; it's an uneven listen, with peaks like "Retrograde" segueing into the quotidian piano recital of "DLM," with an undistinguished back half that doesn't linger in the mind afterward.

70
PopMatters

Whatever Overgrown’s disappointments, it still bears the mark of a young songwriter of obscene talent. 

70
Exclaim!

Blake purportedly focused on his songwriting, inspired by a new relationship and the distance of non-stop touring, and the result is the lush Overgrown.

70
Rolling Stone

He sings in a pretty, dusky warble, but often doesn't enunciate his lyrics; he's less a songwriter than a conjurer of melodies. But at its finest, Blake's mood music has some magic in it. It holds you in its spell.

65
XLR8R

At it best moments, Overgrown proves that the two sides of James Blake—the dancefloor oddball and the crossover songwriter—can exist side by side, but it also demonstrates that, at least right now, the balance between the two is totally off.

64
Paste

He hasn’t grown enough as a lyricist to carry his piano-based compositions, and as a producer, he’s shown a more stylish hand with diva turns and silence than his own voice

60
DIY

Always subtle, usually elegant and generally very easy to appreciate, but never implanting itself onto your mind with red-hot intent.

60
The Observer

The London producer with the voice like a bruise remains perennially inconsolable here.

ThrowBackG
90
I understand my reasons for a perfect score are my own personal reasons....but my god...sometimes music says what you're feeling more than you can.

Edit: oof. The Colour gang got me
AmericaanSpirit
68
While his musicianship has grown in leaps, he plays too heavily into the pop tropes he teetered on in his previous work. Which while gave him a broader audience, didn't do much for his path as an artist.

BEST TRACKS: Life Around Here, Retrograde, Digital Lion
Plats
85
It may not be as experimental as his debut, but it's not very hard to overlook that flaw with beautiful, minimalist production, James Blake's great vocals, and improved songwriting. Plus, RZA makes a great feature!

Fav Tracks: I Am Sold, Retrograde, Take A Fall For Me, Life Round Here, Digital Lion, Overgrown

Least Fav Track: Voyeur

Score:
8.5
Awesome
soflogemstone
88
Everything Bon Iver strived to be on "22, A Million". Raw heartbreaking emotion over instrumentation that takes you into a realm perfectly crafted to fit the hums of the artist. Words aren't always needed, and they sometimes can clutter the true feeling of a record. James does a perfect job in displaying this on wax.
BuffaloStaple
84
Whilst a lot of people don't like the fact that it wasn't as experimental as his debut, some of the experimentation on that album didn't work for me that much, like the acapella vocal effect on Lindesfarne 1 or the ear-piercing drums on To Care (Like You), they took a bit of getting used to. Overgrown is a more refined body of work, even if it is a bit safer, it is a little short of breath, his first was aswell but I don't think it should have been any longer, Overgrown however I think could ... read more
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Track List

  1. Overgrown
  2. I Am Sold
  3. Life Around Here
  4. Take a Fall for Me (Feat. RZA)
  5. Retrograde
  6. DLM
  7. Digital Lion (Feat. Brian Eno)
  8. Voyeur
  9. To the last
  10. Our Love Comes Back
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Added on: February 7, 2013