James Blake has been drip feeding fans with new tracks from his latest album since the beginning of the year, and teasers ramped up this week with posts of Quentin Blake emblazoning walls with artwork. As Thursday evening rolled around, Blake announced his album would be released at midnight.
Seventeen tracks, 1 hour and 16 minutes later, I can say I’m very satisfied. The Colour in Anything sees a clear return to the experimentation with beats and sampling that made his debut, self-titled album so intriguing and has continued to do so with recent EPs like 200 Press EP. Tracks like “Put That Away And Talk To Me” and “Noise Above Our Heads” especially show Blake’s more experimental side, and “Waves Know Shores” experiments alongside soulful vocals, another familiar trait of much of his music, which are held up with group harmony and distant horns, only to be interjected later with cavernous, glitchy blips of sound and warm pads as the track progresses.
Fans of his stripped back vocal/piano tracks are also served well here, with the title track seeing a return of James’ vocals reverberating around simple piano passages, and later joined by multi-tracked harmony.
“Timeless”, which was released ahead of the album, still stands out as a track you’ll want to return to by itself alongside “Radio Silence” which makes for a brilliant opener, with its agitated drum pattern, familiar sub bass and urgent synth line to the right of the mix. “Two Men Down” also stands as a great example of Blake bringing together soul, experimentation and creative beats to make an engaging, memorable track.
As the album comes to a close with the half duet, half vocal sample blend of “Always” and the pensive, vocoder acapella of “Meet You In The Maze”, this feels like a strong addition to James Blake’s catalogue and yet another success of 2016. The Colour in Anything is available to listen to on Spotify now.