Blake’s Electric ‘Lion’ Roars
To premise the album, I will start off right away by declaring that this album is an experience. It is an album that demands the entire focus of the mind for full enjoyment. In order to really embrace this record, you have to lay on your floor with headphones on.
“Overgrown” is the sophomore effort to James Blake’s successful self-titled album not too long ago in 2011. With a second go comes a honed craft, as Blake truly experiments and dives deeper into his electronic roots with even more symphonic and orchestral waves of high notes and synth.
The opening track, “Overgrown,” is bass-driven, serving as an introduction for the bass that is about to encompass the entire album, which seems to be swallowed by it.
“I Am Sold” follows, which continues with the repeated lyrics, “Speculate what we feel.” The instrumentals take this as a key, offering little accompaniment in order to contemplate these words that continue throughout the majority of the song.
“Life Round Here” picks up the pace of the generally slow-tempo album, then follows with “Take a Fall For Me.” It seems to offer a fresh perspective of music from Wu Tang Clan’s RZA, who raps to the track with back vocal help by James Blake.
I felt that Blake’s vocal samples made the song comical, as his attempt to keep the song reflective of his genre alternatively made me laugh. There were spurts of high notes that were awkwardly thrown in throughout. However, Overgrown’s single, “Retrograde,” makes up for this. Simply put, it is marketable for a wider audience. It is melodic and incredibly contagious; expect this track to be stuck in your head for the next few days.
Blake takes a right turn from this, and “DLM” is brought forth. Here, we hear a slowed tempo once again, but with piano accompaniment. Blake also seems to really experiment with his vocals, as he constantly shifts from sets of high notes to low notes. He is clearly a fan of voice samples, and chooses to replace these with generic collective choruses in songs.
What comes next is the most experimental, yet also most well done, track in the album, and my personal favorite: “Digital Lion.” This song passionately amazes me. It does not even sound like a song more so than it does of a set of electrocuted footsteps and beats that tell a story. “Did you tell a lie?” Blake chants, as the footsteps get louder and louder and quieter and quieter throughout the song. There is an “organized chaos” to the dynamic of “Digital Lion.”
After this chaos comes “Voyeur,” which seems to differ from the prior, creating a dance vibe that is dance-able in a “James Blake sort of way.” The final two tracks, “To the Last” and “Our Love Comes Back,” bring the album to a happy ending.
Overall, Blake truly impresses listeners and fans with his sophomore album. With this, we can ensure that James Blake is here to stay and to hone his electronic craft.
Only recommended if you want a slow yet symphonic musical experience.