You may think you know James Blake from his previous works: his first, self-titled, studio album, and maybe from his collaboration with that one guy from Bon Iver, but think again! James Blake is back! And this time, it appears, a little happier than before? Or no, maybe just as sad, but at least a little more willing to open up about it? Yeah, that’s it. His most recent single, “Retrograde,” which is the first offering from his forthcoming album, Overgrown, is as soulful of a release as we have heard from the man that became famous from sampling Aaliyah, so that’s gotta be saying something right?
The track starts off with an auto-tuned falsetto that is bound to get stuck in your head at some point upon listening, and then follows with some of the most lyrical verses that we’ve heard from Blake. The instrumentation remains extremely Blake-esque, using the same melodic synths and slow build as before, and remains calm until the song explodes with energy at the half way mark, when Blake signals for the energy to enter in by singing “Suddenly I’m hit.” It’s the same emo Blake that we know and love with the same beats that made us appreciate ‘post-dubstep,’ but rather than use the same principles that gained him fame as a way to distinguish himself into an wholly unique category from everyone else, it appears he’s using his tools to bolster an even bigger sound.
Since we last heard Blake, about a year ago, the music industry has become more welcoming to this kind of music than ever before. Right now, when we have Mike WiLL Made It and others churning out massive, melodic r&b landscapes for artists like Rihanna, Kelly Rowland, and Future (to name a very few amount of artists that he has been behind lately). This song seems like a perfect fit to a new r&b atmosphere that is both instrumental and melodic, a genre that relies on a big sound, but doesn’t shove it down your throat. It’s intriguing to watch Blake who has constantly stood next to his creations, hiding behind samples, snares, and synths, enter into the forefront of the instrumental landscapes that he has crafted and it seriously couldn’t have come at a better time. Watch the official video for ‘Retrograde’ below that mirrors the songs melancholy feel.[youtube http://youtu.be/6p6PcFFUm5I]