Preview: James Blake at The Anthem

Photo courtesy of the artist.

Photo courtesy of the artist.

James Blake is truly having a moment right now. His newest record, “Assume Form,” is an ode to growth, affirming love and the fruits of healthy partnership in every sense. Blake brings his classic softness to hip hop-driven beats, and with a borderline saccharin sweetness that cuts through this feature heavy record like layers of frosting in a multi-tiered cake.

Blake pulls his classic style through a sleuth of truly impressive collaborations -- from newcomers like ROSALIA and Moses Sumney, to the prolific and often elusive Andre 3000, every feature feels painstakingly intentional. These collaborations aren’t placed on the record purely for clout or  newsworthy buzz — they’re placed for really impactful and dynamically different sounds, all coming together to create this narrative of the love Blake has to share — in particular, the slant toward hip hop artists featured feels fresh and, frankly, artfully done.

The roots of “Assume Form” are deeply planted in Blake’s classic canons, but this album displays an ambitious branching out from the comforts of his stylistic bubble. Tracks like “Where’s The Catch” with Andre 3000 is dark and surprising -- Andre’s feature brings light and levity to an otherwise gloomy track. “Mile High” is a Top 40 worthy track with the buzz-worthy Travis Scott. “Lullaby for My Insomniac” contrasts a more classical composition with futuristic synths, which replace melodies that would typically be served by strings, alongside vocals that strive in the offbeats. This combination is near-addictive, and serves as a truly satisfying finale to a strong album overall.

Blake began his tour this weekend, and seeing him bring this new record to life at The Anthem on February 21 is sure to be beyond memorable. Join us on Thursday as we sway to the record we can’t seem to turn off this month.