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Friends That Break Your Heart

by James Blake

Released October 8, 2021 via Republic Records / Polydor Records

Reviewed October 18, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Say What You Will (50%), Life Is Not The Same (48%), Coming Back (38%)

James Blake has proven himself as one of the best artists in his lane this past decade, with great album after great album. And yet, it feels like he’s still clamoring to match the grandeur of his self-titled debut. Blake is yet to reach that level of innovation, but he gets damn close from a quality standpoint on Friends That Break Your Heart. The production traces back to his older work, which bordered more on electronics than anything. But there’s a touch of hip hop in the production that adds complexity and contrasts well with Blake’s gorgeous voice. The one thing you can always expect from a James Blake record is his vocals, which are incredible on their own. But on this album they sound more emotive and as icy as ever. Friends That Break Your Heart is a beautiful album that brings an especially fulfilling body of work, considering its minimalism. – Alan (8.3/10)

Looking to “foot forward” into another creative stratosphere, James Blake embraces themes of heartbreak and betrayal on his fifth album, Friends That Break Your Heart. It’s a significant emotional shift in comparison to 2019’s Assume Form, which carried such a blissfully sensual tone. At times, Blake comes across as believably distraught and in tune with his melancholy, which can pitch this album to unbelievable heights behind songs like “Say What You Will” or “Life Is Not The Same.” Unfortunately, the album’s deep cuts don’t uniformly follow suit from the album’s singles, and Friends That Break Your Heart is somewhat of a mixed bag. A handful of guest features, while exciting on paper, often failed to sustain and enhance the momentum at hand. Despite its varying degrees of quality, this collection of sensitive anthems features the all-too consistent James Blake vocals we’ve come to love over the years. As far as mood pieces go, Friends That Break Your Heart registers as a solid downer. – DeVán (7.7/10)

James Blake's fifth studio album centers around the universal theme of friendship: Make, break and mistake. His unique approach to textural development and progressive vocal manipulation take a slight backseat on Friends That Break Your Heart, relying more on straightforward melody and pop. The experimentation is still there, only less jarring as his earlier works. Toned down to a degree, Blake's impact is diminished, with less seduction and electronic vibrance. Friends... feels like it belongs with every other contemporary work in comparison to Blake's previous efforts, which felt like they were each and of their own. Overall an enjoyable project with moments of brilliance( Say What You Will), but most certainly lacks that special touch which James Blake has become known for. – Peter (6.5/10)

Cam: 8.3/10 | Alan: 7.8/10 | DeVán: 7.7/10

Dominick: 7.5/10 | Hadley: 7/10 | Peter: 6.5/10


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