James Blake - Assume Form
Apr 10, 2023
Another day, another great effort from James Blake, unsurprisingly.

Assume Form serves as Blake's fourth studio album, following his ambitiously long 2016 venture "The Colour In Anything", a record I ultimately enjoyed for the most part as Blake's songwriting and an ear for interesting electronica fused with classical piano balladry and other interesting fusions into electronic music ultimately translated fruitfully, as it did for his other records, but with how bloated TCIA was, seemed to be just a little less good than the other records that preceded it. With Assume Form, not only do we see a new side to Blake's music, but we see a "return to form" in a way that this record has the same consistency his first two albums had, but now with a slightly poppier twist.

It's clear that Blake's feelings of grief and despondency have been very much a part of his music up to this point, and while Assume Form definitely has it's emotional pockets here and there, this record is seemingly much brighter, more hopeful, for a James Blake record. This may be due to James finding love in someone during the creation of this record, and many of the songs and overall lyricism of the project taking a turn for more romantic topics. He still sounds the same on a vocal level, maybe approaching poppier aesthetics with more conventional song structures on some of the tracks, but it doesn't remove what Blake is conveying. The intro track of the record gives a great insight to this more hopeful side of James Blake, where he finds himself approaching the "ether" and "assuming form", finally letting go of the things that have held him down in the past and looking to move to greater heights in life, feeling much happier in life. Songs such as Into The Red, Barefoot in the Park and Can't Believe The Way We Flow show more direct lyrical topics, from sacrificing something for someone you love, or generally being on the same wavelength as another person. Even a track like Power On gives a more thoughtful feeling to swallowing your pride and learning from someone else, instead of being dismissive. This new direction into more optimistic lyrical topics give Assume Form a lyrical uniqueness that isn't super present in Blake's discography.

Whilst you get your more optimistic tracks, of course you get your more emotional tracks here and there. Specifically Where's The Catch and Don't Miss It prove to be much more reflective on certain things, with Where's The Catch opting to talk on the "is it to good to be true" motif that only further escalates with André 3000's absolutely insane verse on his own personal struggles and fights with depression in his life, where Blake and Andre bounce off of each other really incredibly on the outro portion of the track with the phrase "everything's rose". Don't Miss It serves as Blake's reflection on how he couldn't enjoy a lot of the things in life that were actually good for him because his depressive thoughts clouded his memory, something I believe is super interesting to discuss from a point of post-depression or finding yourself in a better place.

As for production here, James Blake moves closer into poppier territories in this record. Of course you'll get your usual alternative R&B/art pop tracks such as the previously mentioned title track or Barefoot in the Park, but Blake also messes around in the tropes of trap music and more hip-hop electronica fusions with production work. A song like Mile High or Tell Them certainly doesn't feel out of place on this record with it's poppier, more upbeat sounds, but would've been complete outliers on other Blake records. Where's The Catch could've seen a place maybe on Overgrown or TCIA, but also leans more into a poppier sound not in those records that it may also just not work on either of those records. Can't Believe the Way We Flow might have one of the most ethereal, out of this world production I've ever heard on an alternative R&B/art pop track with some insane vocal sample work and melodies that are simply insane. Even the more standard fare art pop ballads just have an extra feeling of pop appeal without losing the quality of Blake's music with tracks like I'll Come Too. All in all just really good production as always, even with a much broader soundscape than his previous records.

Another thing I think warrants discussion is the features on this record. Up to this point in Blake's career, he really hadn't collabed with many artists on tracks unless it was production work or certain cases like seeing RZA or Bon Iver on previous records. Here, Blake works alongside Travis Scott, Metro Boomin, Moses Sumney, ROSALÍA, and André 3000. Every single one of these collaborators, no matter how widespread the genres are for all of them, worked so so so well with Blake.

Travis? Killed it on Mile High with the more provocative lyrics and matching the melodies of the alternative R&B track.

Metro? Crafted two absolute bangers on the production end with the more mellow sound on Mile High and the punchier nocturnal trap sound on Tell Them.

Moses? Has an insane verse, and the way he harmonizes with Blake here is otherworldly.

ROSALíA? Provides excellent vocals on a mellower art pop ballad. Her vocals, whether they be in Spanish or English here are insane, and how she meshes with Blake's vocals here are heavenly.

André? I mean, it's 3 Stacks, do I even need to say anything that hasn't been said about him by this point? Craziest verse on the record, might be one of his best verses ever.

And yeah, Assume Form proves to be another incredibly strong record from James Blake. One that is much more upbeat, slightly poppier, and has an undeniable uniqueness to it in Blake's discography. Beautiful, ethereal, and enjoyable from front to back, Blake does it once again.


Assume Form-95
Mile High-91
Tell Them-93
Into The Red-82
Barefoot In The Park-85
Can’t Believe The Way We Flow-100
Are You In Love?-81
Where’s The Catch?-100
I’ll Come Too-91
Power On-80
Don’t Miss It-78
Lullaby For My Insomniac-83

Wow, what a fantastic review! You're goated fr ๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ‘‘๐Ÿ‘‘
@Sophi be buggin thank you so much! I appreciate all the support. :)
yea i like how experimental this one is for Blake, you don't miss any part of it fuego review
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More Reviews by TurbulenceSSB
James Blake - Overgrown
Mar 26, 2023
James Blake - James Blake
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