Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 38
  2. Negative: 0 out of 38
  1. Mar 22, 2011
    100
    James Blake is dubstep's crossover moment, rolling back the hostile skronk and centering on a croon that rivals Antony Hegarty for lovelorn beauty.
  2. 100
    James Blake is an essential for anybody interested in witnessing how pop music can and will continue to change, progress, and grow into something new with time.
  3. Feb 8, 2011
    100
    The highlights here are subtle, but many.
  4. Feb 18, 2011
    93
    This is a piece of work that raises the bar for all his contemporaries, and I would not be surprised to see this album at the top of many Best of 2011 lists.
  5. Mar 14, 2011
    90
    With not a sound wasted, James Blake is everything we wanted James Blake to make.
  6. Feb 18, 2011
    90
    James Blake is an absolute treat for the ears.
  7. Feb 9, 2011
    90
    Written, arranged, performed and recorded by Blake in his bedroom, the album isn't just a good collection of touching songs, it's a complete world of his own; a mood, a moment, a sound that's uniquely his. Just as a future classic should be.
  8. Feb 9, 2011
    90
    With this new LP -- released on a major label on both sides of the Atlantic, no less -- odds are, a lot of people are going to listen, and I don't mean in the tail-eating, blog-bite-blog sort of way.
  9. Feb 8, 2011
    90
    His are fragile, beautiful songs floating over warmly alien, sometimes seemingly formless musical structures yet it's an effect borne through unconventional levels of space and patience.
  10. Feb 7, 2011
    90
    The young studio maverick has given us something entirely new, but it's not perfect. It's not an inconsistent album, but it has a few unnecessary fillers. His unrestricted, deconstructed, sparse and minimal productions are unique and he deserves all the hype surrounding him.
  11. Feb 18, 2011
    85
    Blake has managed to create something new, balancing his understated vocals with funky, dub beats, synthesizers and a vocoder.
  12. He achieves a lot with a little. He never gives us filler. He continues to innovate. He has provided us with a great album, one that is a sure sign his velocity has not been slowed.
  13. Apr 28, 2011
    80
    Like Portishead, this album may very well achieve background ubiquity, but that should not be allowed to obscure the strangeness and currency of this record. [Mar 2011, p.46]
  14. Apr 6, 2011
    80
    London singer-songwriter attempts to annex the middle ground between Benga and Anthony Hegarty. [March 2011, p. 96]
  15. Mar 2, 2011
    80
    James Blake's most compelling moments come when you can't tell where he stops and the machines begin.
  16. Mar 2, 2011
    80
    Using lo-fi digital techniques to play up rough edges and raw emotion, Blake's rare talent is to make music so naked seem unshakable.
  17. Mar 1, 2011
    80
    Haunting debut from post-dubstep pioneer. [March 2011, p. 113]
  18. Feb 15, 2011
    80
    James Blake transcends dubstep, and perhaps artificiality as a whole.
  19. Feb 15, 2011
    80
    What I do know is that at the center of the deafening hype is a fascinating debut, and having spent the last week immersed in it, I suppose I too am willing to invest a bit of hyperbole in James Blake, particularly if it helps convince you to invest a few hours with this uncommonly powerful album.
  20. Feb 15, 2011
    80
    Like fellow minimalists The xx, Blake takes from dubstep an awareness of space and silence; he appreciates the power of a perfectly weighted pause. [Mar 2011, p.98]
  21. 80
    In weaker moments he veers into mawkish troubadour territory, but Blake's musical alchemy can be capable of matching the urban, nocturnal beauty of vintage Massive Attack.
  22. Feb 8, 2011
    80
    Though it's an album of quiet dynamism with no actual audible screams, James Blake is certainly an album that invites its close listeners to fall in. It belongs to that very unique branch of avant-gardism, nee synthpop and soul (not so much dubstep), that invites in as it perplexes.
  23. Feb 8, 2011
    80
    Even at its most impenetrable, the album leaves you in a state of charmed confusion: you frequently have no idea what's going to happen next – not exactly a sensation much current rock and pop evokes.
  24. Feb 8, 2011
    80
    Aside from the hype, this album is by no means a feasible breakthrough into the mainstream--there's not stride enough for that. But when it's at its best, it's boundary-breaking.
  25. Feb 7, 2011
    80
    For those intransigent souls, there will always those three EPs to listen to. Everyone else can feel free to luxuriate in the wintry delights of this fine record.
  26. Built for repeat listening, this will keep on giving. Don't you just hate it when the hype is right?
  27. 75
    An intriguing concept, not always fully realized. [1 Apr 2011, p.77]
  28. 75
    Full of airy vocals and synths, the album sounds as if it could lift off at any moment if not for the drum thumps tethering it down. But the beats sound weighty only in contrast.
  29. Feb 8, 2011
    70
    In James Blake, the squish-grooved London club throb called dubstep just got its very own emotive song stylist. Blake uses neosoul keyboards, blip beats and layered snips of his heart-starved warbling to create softly roiling slow jams.
  30. 70
    His first full album, James Blake, sounds as if it were made for an assignment in an electronic music course. It's a bit intellectual, a bit process-oriented and a bit undercooked.
  31. Feb 7, 2011
    70
    Truth first: James Blake is not a great record. It is a good record, and maybe even a slightly provocative one, in that an album this spare, minimal, and myopic shouldn't, by rights, be stirring the pot so much.
  32. Mar 22, 2011
    60
    The rest of the tracks are more like exercises in sound manipulation and reduction than songs. The approach is no-fault, but Blake pares it down to such an extent that the material occasionally sounds not just tentative but feeble, fatigued, even.
  33. Mar 1, 2011
    60
    The highs are notable. The problem is, Blake has put himself in a tight box, and when he strays out of it the material wavers [...]
  34. 60
    [There are] some decent moments on this debut album.
  35. Ultimately Blake isn't yet the singer-songwriter to pull this album off.
  36. Feb 8, 2011
    50
    Boldness, you realise, is not the same thing as greatness, and James Blake is not a great album. It has great moments, some of which hint at possible directions after the dust has settled around this release.
  37. Mar 17, 2011
    40
    It's perfect for getting some shut-eye, but the boy wonder bores when cast upon alert ears.
  38. Feb 16, 2011
    40
    Blake's songs are built around a single typically melancholic lyric and melody that he works over, kind of like an R&B singer, while gradually switching stylistic gears.
User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 126 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 24
  2. Negative: 1 out of 24
  1. Feb 9, 2011
    10
    A truly brilliant album. Blake has taken the most distinctive elements of dubstep, stripped them down to their most minimal core, and infusedA truly brilliant album. Blake has taken the most distinctive elements of dubstep, stripped them down to their most minimal core, and infused the result with a soulfulness rarely found in contemporary music. It's beyond words and beyond anything anyone has done, and is undoubtedly the best album of 2011. Full Review »
  2. Feb 19, 2011
    10
    What a brilliant album. The vocals are mature, subtle, toned down, patient. James Blake has really come into his own with this. AbsolutelyWhat a brilliant album. The vocals are mature, subtle, toned down, patient. James Blake has really come into his own with this. Absolutely ground breaking. Full Review »
  3. Apr 3, 2011
    9
    It's ironic that the first full length release from an artist now seen by some as the poster boy of dubstep actually bears very littleIt's ironic that the first full length release from an artist now seen by some as the poster boy of dubstep actually bears very little resemblance to dubstep at all. Rather than the distorted bass usually associated with the genre, Blake seeps his album in an isolated minimalism, fusing elements of soul with icy electronics. The lingering pauses in some of the more introverted songs would grow frustrating if they didn't work so well, as this is an album that exudes loneliness, the theme even extending to the lyrics which are often built from one ambiguous line (Why Don't You Call Me, I Never Learnt to Share). While the uncompromising nature of the record may deter some, in reality this merely focuses attention on the mournful seclusion that serves as the foundation for the album's soundscapes. With such a restricted palette, it's difficult to see how Blake will be able to progress and still retain the uniqueness, but as seen with the sheer level of focus found on this album, he's already broken more ground in one release than some artists could hope to in an entire career. Full Review »