James Blake Surveys Friends That Break Your Heart

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Jessica Scanlon, Reporter

James Blake Litherland, born September 26, 1988, is an English singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and record producer from London. He first received recognition for a series of 2010 EPs including CMYK and Klavierwerke, and he released his self-titled debut album in 2011 to much praise. A little over 10 years after his first studio album, Blake announced his fifth album Friends That Break Your Heart.

Compared to the other albums, it is easy to say that Friends That Break Your Heart is Blake’s most personal work. Throughout the album, Blake uses his pent-up emotions to play with the idea that “in the end, it was friends that break your heart.” The album features SZA, JID, SwaVay, and Monica Martin. SZA is featured on ‘Coming Back’, arguably one of the best songs on the album. JID and SwaVay are featured on ‘Frozen’, a slow-paced, yet upbeat song. Monica Martin is featured on ‘Show Me’, Martin and Blake’s vocals perfectly complement each other, creating an overall amazing track. The features on this album prove to be one of its strengths and one of the main reasons it is a fan favorite.

Despite the album just coming out, many of the songs have already accumulated over half a million streams on Spotify; showing just how much traction this album is garnering.

The album is under an hour in length, the ideal length for an album. If the album was longer Blake would have risked being repetitive, which is why it is so good that the album is on the shorter side. Songs from the album such as ‘Famous Last Words’, ‘Say What You Will’, and the title track ‘Friends That Break Your Heart’ is the most standout out of the whole album. Each of the songs takes on a different theme and conveys them excellently. Among all of the songs, the most lackluster is ‘If I’m Insecure’. The twinkling synth that plays for the duration of the song overpowers the vocals and the rest of the instrumental, making it overall hard to listen to.

Friends That Break Your Heart is full of ballads for any listener, regardless of their musical preferences. The overall theme of the album was carried out greatly, with each song playing a direct role in it. The cover art only adds to the theme, nicely conveying the emotions that Blake intended the audience to feel while listening. The cover artistically shows Blake rotting in a forest, alluding to the emotions he feels slowly taking him over. Despite being one of Blake’s most tame albums, compared to his others, it is his least critically acclaimed.

Blake’s newest album did not disappoint. The relatable lyrics and tone of the project make for an enjoyable listen to come back to, time and time again.

Rating: 7/10

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