The highly anticipated return of genre-bending English electronica maestro James Blake has finally arrived with sophomore release Overgrown.

Complete with the same soulful lyricism and minimalist instrumentation of his first album but this time intertwined with an all-encompassing hint of melancholia and darkness.

It’s been two years since 24-year-old Blake released his self-titled debut, a step away from his garage roots and early EP sound with a post-dubstep blend of soul, synth and blues.

His hyped return in 2013 delivers a sound and honest collection of heartbreaking tracks which chronicle a fading relationship and heartache, with moments of dance and retro RnB thrown in amongst the heavy heap.

That’s just what the album is; heavy. Darkness and melancholia are blended with stinging synth chords and strong bass lines that feel like falling in slow motion. This newfound introspection certainly doesn’t hinder the release, but rather works in Blake’s favour.

Opener ‘Overgrown’ begins with the Blake’s  hums layered on a drowsy beat and light piano; the slow-burning number bursts into colour with the accompanying percussion of crashing cymbals and hazy synths that lead into the soft yet resonating ‘I Am Sold’.

‘Take A Fall For Me’ features Wu-Tang legend RZA and takes the record down a few notches into a dirty swayer with the Staten Island beatsmith dropping lines like “I need you like I need satisfaction” alongside Blake’s repetitive cries that “he can’t marry her”.

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Then there’s the soulful first single ‘Retrograde’ with its handclaps and brain-melting synths that kick in at just the right time to make this one of the strongest tracks on the album.

Blake’s mantra-like repetition of “And her mind was on me,” dominates slow-burner ‘Voyeur’ as it builds with those brain-draining synth lines and percussive beats into a soaked house number.

The clincher is final track ‘Our Love Comes Back’ a bittersweet number complete with Blake’s crooner-like vocal lines which echo the auto-tune experimentation from his previous release, arranged beautifully with intermittent soft piano and jangly percussion.

The ten-track release is certainly less disjointed than the debut with a clear, more concise mix of slower soul jams and minimal banger hits.

Each track works perfectly within the arrangement of the album, but might struggle if taken out of context, especially prettier numbers ‘DLM’ and ‘To The Last’.

Blake’s nocturnal introspective is a synth-heavy release with strong yet heartbreaking lyricism; the collection of tracks is a beautiful and melancholic trip that will certainly stay with you long after the last beat fades away.

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