AOTY 2023
James Blake - Friends That Break Your Heart
Apr 14, 2023
And wrapping up James Blake's discography, we are greeted to his 2021 record, Friends That Break Your Heart, a further venture into the poppier sound Blake would begin to venture into on his previous studio album, Assume Form. Here on this record however, we see crossovers into more hip-hop tropes, singer songwriter ballads alongside usual art pop tropes shown on previous James Blake records, and even ventures into more pop soul areas, making this possibly his poppiest record to date. And, as per usual, James Blake is able to comfortably change and morph his soundscapes into these electronic and orchestral places of beauty, and through usual great songwriting and vocals from Blake, his most recent record is another great one to add to his discography.

Here on FTBYH, Blake's songwriting goes back to darker, more reflective tropes shown on the first three Blake studio album, somewhat broken by Assume Form's slightly more upbeat production fronts and more positive lyrics. Here, many of the song lyrics discuss a bit of both positive and negative in Blake's recent life. He discusses things such as broken relationships with lovers and friends (Famous Last Words, Friends That Break Your Heart, Funeral), reflecting on his growth as an individual (Life Is Not The Same, Foot Forward, Show Me), his content with his current status, regardless of he grows or shrinks in popularity(Say What You Will), amongst other topics towards relationships and reflective balladry, a-la James Blake mode. Blake's vocals are as potent as ever, as he brings out that great vocal range of his strongly here. Some of the non-vocal harmonizations are extremely potent and ethereal sounding, such as on Say What You Will's final chorus or the how he'll cruise over something as interesting as the ballad-like piano keys Metro Boomin lies on Foot Forward. Blake also messes around with vocal effects and pitching on songs like Frozen and I'm So Blessed You're Mine, bringing some really interesting vocal inflections to said tracks.

When it comes to production, Blake continues to test slightly poppier aesthetics onto his music, whilst keeping a generally dark and nocturnal sound he's centered his production styles around, however, will bounce into lighter sounds. A good example of this is debatably one of James Blake's poppiest tracks to date, Coming Back with SZA. With these orchestral keys alongside some dark, subdued retro synths of sorts, and the catchier melodies and overall repetition only furthers this sentiment. Foot Forward kinda approaches a dark pop soul approach that has plenty of personality from Blake's melodies and vocal presence here. There are other interesting crossovers, such as the nocturnal hip-hop track Frozen, which features two insanely great verses from Atlanta hip-hop artists JID and SwaVay, and even a singer-songwriter approach with the subdued acoustics and stripped back feeling shown on the title track. of course, you get your alternative R&B cuts and your art pop ballads, but with another approach to poppier sounds, creates an energy akin to Assume Form in some ways, but also making it sound unique within Blake's discography.

And yeah, Blake proves himself once again with Friends That Break Your Heart. A really good record that James Blake fans will find enjoyment out of, and with more accessible sonic choices and beautiful vocals, can also be a good place to hear a more accessible side of Blake's music alongside Assume Form. An enjoyable experience from front to back that gives insight to Blake's current feelings towards his life during and after the wake of COVID at the beginning of the decade, as well as a total reflection on his current life.


Famous Last Words-93
Life Is Not The Same-89
Coming Back-86

I’m So Blessed You’re Mine-73
Foot Forward-80
Show Me-77
Say What You Will-90
Lost Angel Nights-93
Friends That Break Your Heart-83

If I’m Insecure-87

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More Reviews by TurbulenceSSB
James Blake - Assume Form
Apr 10, 2023
James Blake - Overgrown
Mar 26, 2023
James Blake - James Blake
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