• Record Label: Polydor
  • Release Date: Apr 9, 2013
Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 40 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 40
  2. Negative: 0 out of 40
  1. 90
    Overgrown continues to build on a fantastic reputation: one that much like his music is aided by layer and layer of calculated additions that all together showcases one of music’s most gifted composers.
  2. May 10, 2013
    80
    Overgrown is a fuller, more heated album than its predecessor, denser and more tender. [No. 98, p.52]
  3. Apr 30, 2013
    50
    Blake may have dispensed with some of the more experimental and emotionally obtuse trappings of his debut album on Overgrown in an attempt to engage more directly with a wider audience, but his intentions are all but drowned out by a thick glass porthole being hammered on feverishly by a dozen drowning onlookers.
  4. Apr 19, 2013
    75
    While Blake hasn't attempted anything startlingly new on Overgrown, he's certainly still the master of his own musical vocabulary.
  5. Apr 18, 2013
    80
    It’s intense, ambitious and, in places, uneasy listening, but at the core of Overgrown lies unalloyed beauty.
  6. Apr 17, 2013
    84
    It’s a more consistent album than his debut--for better and for worse.
  7. Apr 15, 2013
    70
    He sings in a pretty, dusky warble, but often doesn't enunciate his lyrics; he's less a songwriter than a conjurer of melodies. But at its finest, Blake's mood music has some magic in it.
  8. Apr 12, 2013
    40
    The object of his lamentations is conveniently out of reach, hence the constant cat-and-mouse game between enunciation and melisma. When Blake sees fit to loop a phrase or attempt a chorus, the undertaking breaks down under its own weight.
  9. Apr 12, 2013
    90
    It’s a beautiful, at times tragic album, a versatile hodge-podge of creativity and ambition whose influences are nearly undetectable (this critic hears Bjork and D’Angelo most apparently) and with nary a false note.
  10. Apr 11, 2013
    80
    On Overgrown, the chord progressions are more complex and the lyrics less abstracted, but it’s still the James Blake we love.
  11. Apr 11, 2013
    70
    In a strange mistake of sequencing, Blake frontloads Overgrown with its least interesting material.
  12. Apr 10, 2013
    80
    Blake’s best moments on Overgrown occur when he finds that balance between the upbeat hip-hop rhythms and the down-tempo acoustics that so brilliantly parallel his voice.
  13. 83
    Overgrown is not the enigma that was his debut, but rather it is a first-rate album from a musician that isn’t all that interested in being enigmatic.
  14. Apr 10, 2013
    70
    Overgrown's biggest fault is lack of quality control; it's an uneven listen, with peaks like "Retrograde" segueing into the quotidian piano recital of "DLM," with an undistinguished back half that doesn't linger in the mind afterward.
  15. 100
    In 1996, The Fugees set the whole urban blues thing in motion with The Score. With a work of such stark emotional beauty, Blake has picked up the torch once again with Overgrown.
  16. Apr 9, 2013
    80
    He understands the value of restraint, his meticulously assembled songs slowly giving up their secrets rather than tipping everything out at once. [May 2013, p.82]
  17. Apr 9, 2013
    60
    His sometimes-still-too-warbly voice is the main instrument on this follow-up, but it's pockmarked with new friends' influence. [May 2013, p.96]
  18. Apr 9, 2013
    64
    Had Blake been inclined to temper critical pressure and career anxiety into raw material, Overgrown may have evolved into something much more compelling. Instead, mistaking the volume knob for an instrument, the album uses louder/softer fades to mask dynamic limitations and muddles through overstuffed mixes.
  19. Apr 9, 2013
    92
    At its best, Overgrown brings to mind Frank Sinatra's iconic In The Wee Small Hours, a record that acts as almost a thematic analogue in its lonely tone and ultimate embrace of love as a painful yet beautiful emotion.
  20. Apr 9, 2013
    91
    James Blake’s talent is in his ability to smoothly synthesize disparate influences; his willingness to grow and develop while doing so is fascinating and frequently rapturous.
  21. Apr 9, 2013
    80
    Overgrown is not as wall-to-wall great as his debut, but fans of the first LP will still find much to admire.
  22. While James Blake felt aloof, even ahuman, Overgrown is packed with feeling, and releases it with the smallest of gestures.
  23. Apr 9, 2013
    90
    While it might take listeners a few spins to find the right head space for the album, once they get there, it's an easy place to get lost in.
  24. 80
    It’s the ideal sophomore LP: Blake emphasizes and magnifies his finest assets (the croon, the dark romance) for the sake of a better song.
  25. Apr 8, 2013
    90
    Overgrown remains closer knit, and paradoxically less fragmented than its illustrious predecessor, ideas rotating core values guided by an affirmatively unseen hand. Which ultimately makes this an even better record.
  26. It’s not an easy listen, but it may just be one of the most nuanced, soothing and adventurous of 2013.
  27. Apr 8, 2013
    70
    Fans put off by Blake's perceived sentimentalism won't have their minds changed by Overgrown, but that's hardly Blake's worry; he's too busy establishing himself as a consistently rewarding songwriter.
  28. Apr 8, 2013
    90
    The result is bone-chillingly gorgeous, right down to the feverish burst of pop strings that accompanies the final choruses.
  29. Apr 8, 2013
    80
    Overgrown is a remarkable effort from an artist who continues to do things his own way, regardless of the consequences.
  30. Apr 8, 2013
    80
    Blessed with a strange, ethereal voice, he could easily excel at music that matches its dulcet tones, but the pungent mixtures of high and low he concocts end up being far more thrilling.
  31. 80
    At its best, Overgrown proves that James Blake doesn't need to listen to anyone's advice. He's doing fine already.
  32. Apr 8, 2013
    80
    He’s absorbed new influences into the unique framework he creates around his songs, pulling in aspects of house, gospel and R&B to create something alluringly strange yet pleasingly palpable.
  33. 60
    The London producer with the voice like a bruise remains perennially inconsolable here.
  34. Apr 8, 2013
    65
    At it best moments, Overgrown proves that the two sides of James Blake—the dancefloor oddball and the crossover songwriter—can exist side by side, but it also demonstrates that, at least right now, the balance between the two is totally off.
  35. Apr 5, 2013
    60
    Overgrown demonstrates that for all Blake's myriad talents as a producer he still isn't able to carve a great song out of a simple idea.
  36. Apr 4, 2013
    80
    Far more than with his first album Overgrown is focused upon his songwriting rather than his technology, and it’s much stronger for it.
  37. 80
    Overgrown is a heartening step in the right direction, and reassurance that Blake’s talents are far from on the wane.
  38. Apr 3, 2013
    90
    All in, Overgrown is a triumph. It is evidence of James Blake forging his own singular musical path, free from hype and expectation, and blossoming into both a producer of real compositional skill and a songwriter of great depth.
  39. Apr 1, 2013
    90
    Always confident in his ability, here he conjures sublime moments with "Retrograde" and ""digital Lion" before violating each with curdled klaxons, his voice throughout pitched persuasively somewhere between Antony Hegarty and Jeff Buckley. [May 2013, p.67]
  40. 80
    It is music of emotion and imagination, shifting perspectives in ways that are deliciously intangible, intent on moving the heart rather than the feet.
User Score
8.6

Universal acclaim- based on 138 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. Apr 9, 2013
    10
    The great James Blake is back. An immediate love at first-listen. Smooth, soulful, raw and R&B in it, Overgrown is by far the best in theThe great James Blake is back. An immediate love at first-listen. Smooth, soulful, raw and R&B in it, Overgrown is by far the best in the making this year so far. Full Review »
  2. Apr 9, 2013
    10
    James Blake is an artist coming out of his shell. Originally he didn't even like his singing voice, but release by release his vocals haveJames Blake is an artist coming out of his shell. Originally he didn't even like his singing voice, but release by release his vocals have become more and more the core fragment of his synthesis, and all the better for it. Expanding on his song-writing and knack for strong vocal melodies, and pushing his production back into the form of restrained beats, which elevate his vocal ability to a higher level, Overgrown is a refinement in every aspect of his debut LP, and a bold step into the realm of more traditional song structures. It is therefore warmer and more accessible than his previous work, which should hopefully earn a fair few fans before taking off into electronic experimentation, carrying his fans along with him. Full Review »
  3. Sep 1, 2013
    10
    Oh good Lord the soul crushing beauty of the tracks 'Overgrown' and 'Retrograde' are enough to earn this album a space in the Top Ten AlbumsOh good Lord the soul crushing beauty of the tracks 'Overgrown' and 'Retrograde' are enough to earn this album a space in the Top Ten Albums of the Year on their own. Thankfully though they are nestled in a dark, glistening concoction of yet more of Blake's soul oozing masterpieces. 'Overgrown' sounds like a journey underground. You never know where you're gonna surface or how deep you're going to go. Blake steers you through the labyrinth of his creation, depositing you reluctantly back in real life at the end of it. 'Digital Lion' has been played on my iPod multiple times daily since it's release. Full Review »