Playing Robots Into Heaven by James Blake album review by Adam fink for Northern Transmissions. The artist's LP drops on 9/8 via Republic


Playing Robots Into Heaven

James Blake

James Blake is the definition of the most modern day troubadour. Trading a guitar for a laptop, the London bred singer, songwriter and producer has been crafting heartbreaking electronic music since 2009 and has since become the pre eminent heartthrob of the casual rave scene.

His music fits the mold for people that love dance music but maybe really don’t want to dance. He trades in longing and his beeps and boops directly emphasize that. Things haven’t changed on his latest album Playing Robots Into Heaven, out everywhere September 8th via Republic and Polydor Records, and it honestly doesn’t really have to. The album is as forward thinking as ever, filled with the perfect amount of heartbreak that keeps a wonderful balance against his drone-y synth pads and erratic, skittery drum beats.

The album’s second single “Loading” is a pulsating concoction of huge organ pads, slippery synths and an effervescent drum pattern. It’s a call back to Blake’s club roots but it’s held together by his soft, repetitive vocals. When he sings in the chorus, “Whenever I Go/I’m Only As Good As My Mind/Which Is Only Good If You’re Mine,” and it’s like a warm hug on a cold day. The emotional aspects of the song shoot straight to the forefront no matter how mechanical or dark the music may get. Things get to their most danceable peak on “Tell Me”. The chorus’s huge bass drum and, what you can only refer to as a, “rave” synths™ elevate the proceedings to their highest level. There are peaks and valleys in the track which definitely make the choruses seem even bigger than you can imagine and it’s a pleasing outlier from the rest of the album’s more chill moments. It is in the record’s somewhat quieter moments where Blake’s songwriting really seems to excel. On “I Want You To Know” Blake’s vocals create a cozy blanket over the reverb drenched breakbeat and even when the squelched vocal samples kick in three quarters of the way through, it’s still Blake’s humanity that stands out on the forefront of the track.

James Blake is a wonderfully talented musician. He has an innate ability to balance the light with dark, the organic and inorganic and infuses enough humanity into his sometimes dystopian soundscapes that you end up feeling comforted by them instead of dismayed. This is something that would feel like a trick in the hands of a lesser artist but with Blake it’s effortless and engaging, just like the entirety of Playing Robots Into Heaven.

Pre-order Playing Robots Into Heaven by James Blake HERE


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