1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 398

Overgrown, by James Blake
Suggested by Jamie Walsh

I’ve been writing reviews for over five months.

In that time, it’s become clear to those playing at home exactly how my feelings lie. I’ve been clear and almost concise about my personal likes and dislikes, even if they’ve been new to me.

There’s a revolving cast of characters that provide the albums suggestions, with the majority of the names becoming well known to those with the patience and fortitude to read every review. As you’ll appreciate, I’m so close to the project and the data behind it that I form ideas and opinions on albums when they are Randomised, based entirely on the track record of the suggester. One thing I’ve not truly considered is how the suggester feels when their album is Randomsied.

I’d assume that one major emotion would be trepidation, especially if the suggested album was a personal highlight. I can’t fault that feeling, although all my reviews are written with love. Well, maybe all… if it plinks, or if it plonks, it can get in the sea. What’s of interest today is how a suggester feels when the Randomiser throws up an album that, on reflection, they’d likely not subject me to now they know what they know about my tastes.

Are they abashed? Nonplussed? Cautiously optimistic? Or are they revelling in the oncoming chaos, a glint in the eye and a steely smile? Are they giggling mischievously behind their hand, basking in the fact that they know what’s coming, that they know exactly how I’ll feel about their aural choice? I do hope it’s the latter, because I’d hate to be a harbinger of bad feeling and disappointment. I mean, I’d definitely do so if required, but I don’t want to be an ass about it.

Because make no mistake: this album is atrocious.

It won the 2013 Mercury Prize, apparently, and earned the artist an Emmy nomination. I’m sorry, but I don’t see it. If you’re looking for a genre, you can have R&B or Soul, but only in the same way that a monkey sphincter can technically be called a snack.

I don’t give a toss who James Blake is. I see he’s got multiple million streams for each song on this dogturd, which I can only assume is down to masochism, morbid curiosity, or clinical idiocy. Or maybe it’s like perpetrators returning to their crime scene, or that peculiar instinct, when presented with a bottle of something smelly, to smell it and smell it and smell it again.

Each of the ten songs here presents identically, with echoing underwater piano and low-fi sloppy percussion. Over the top, James Blake sings. At least, that’s what I assume he’s trying to do, because he sounds like Mr Burns on helium, or an impression of Joe Pasquale done by a Clanger. Every warbled syllable comes over as the filigreed improv that appends every long-note-climax in every R&B song ever written. I suppose it’s a creative choice, but why you’d willingly want to come across like a yodelling ghost or a distressed Thermian is far beyond my comprehension.

There’s nothing redeeming here. Nothing. Every song, even the standout Retrograde, is patently laughable sewage, the audible objectification of the poop emoji. It’s award-winning, highly popular, well-respected lukewarm arse-gravy.

Overgrown? 2/10. Absolute bilge.

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