James Blake – Assume Form
Release: 18th January 2019
Features: Travis Scott, Metro Boomin’, Andre 3000, Moses Sumney
Singles: Mike High (ft Travis Scott & Metro Boomin’), Lullaby For My Insomniac
James Blake has unarguably evolved into one of our great modern-day songwriters. His sound continues to jostle and float between a multitude of genres, spanning R&B, post-dubstep, electronica, trip-hop, ambient and more. And after a huge few years since 2016’s The Colour In Anything, collaborating with Jay Z, Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar and Frank Ocean along the way, Blake is back, with his fourth studio album Assume Form.
With Metro Boomin’ co-producing a couple of the album’s early tracks, particularly the standout lead single with Travis Scott, Assume Form kicks off proceedings with flirtations with trap and hip-hop. But as the album soars on, and with Mount Kimbie’s Dominic Maker drafted in as co-host, more of an electronically-charged R&B sound begins to take the lead.
Self-proclaimed as an ode to girlfriend Jameela Jamil, Assume Form is among Blake’s most touching projects in his discography. Often sparse-yet-vast in production, with layers of vocals powering the instrumentals, Blake is perhaps at the most assured stage of his career, and the songwriting shines as a result. Can’t Believe The Way We Flow is the album’s midpoint masterpiece, with gospel-tinged vocal layering draped delicately over trappy beats and soothing synths.
Assume Form is James Blake’s strongest project to date. His sound continues to encapsulate the success and brilliance of past projects, while expanding to remain enthralling – journeying through a catalogue of sounds, glitching with percussive persuasion, and fighting with ambient beauty. Crushing at times, bleak at others, and pulled together with an encompassing optimism, Assume Form is an early contender for one of the best albums of 2019.
Verdict – WWWW