Because James Blake has been making music since 2011, I was expecting his new album, “Friends That Break Your Heart,” to be boring and sound the same as the rest of his music. But what I heard was a new James Blake album, with songs full of heartbreak and the best production of his career.
The album, released Oct. 8, strays from his 2019 album “Assume Form,’’ which focused on his new love life. However, this album focuses on lost friendships and his state of mind during quarantine.
In the album opener “Famous Last Words,” Blake sings about how he still thinks of the friends he lost, though he should not be thinking of them as much as he does. The production is incredible, using dreamy synths matching Blake’s singing.
The song “Coming Back” also focuses on heartbreak as Blake croons in his falsetto about coming back to a past love. R&B star SZA is featured and sings about the female side of coming back to a past relationship.
A standout track on the album is “Frozen,” which includes a chilling instrumental while Blake gives a very low-key vocal performance. The track has an incredible verse from rapper JID giving into the haunted theme of the song.
As the album progresses, we begin to see how Blake is exhausted from all the troubles he has gone through, but he is slowly beginning to accept it.
Later in the album in the track “Foot Forward,” Blake vents about all that has happened to him. He seems to admit it isn’t that bad and he could have it much worse. The track, produced by producers Metro Boomin and Frank Dukes, fits the mood perfectly.
The song “Say What You Will” touches on Blake moving away from his pop roots with lyrics like “I’m OK with the life of the sunflower and I’m OK with the life of a meteor shower.”
Being the sunflower could allow Blake to have an easy lifestyle since pop artists are usually topping charts and receiving the most coverage. But he is also okay with the troubles of trying out new music, being in turmoil like a meteor shower.
In the final song “If I’m Insecure,” he sings about how he wants to care for others when he can't care for himself. The production is dreary, and Blake adds to it with uncertain vocals, almost questioning himself on the song.
Blake continues to find new ways to impress meIf we have another album like this from Blake, I won’t complain.