James Blake has always been associated with the dubstep scene. With most of his early singles and EPs, this was obvious. By the time his debut LP was released, much of his focus was controversially focused on a more bare, focused attempt to replicate those emotions, while still utilizing the dub. Since then, he’s just moved farther and farther away. Similarly, his music has always felt at least a tinge of sadness. It’s straddled the emotional fence, rarely if ever fully diving into pools of sorrow, but constantly looking longingly in that direction. His last LP really laid these feelings bare, giving us more of an insight to James’ psyche than we ever had before.
“Modern Soul” is neither dubstep nor sad. While it’s still obviously a James Blake track – there’s vocal layering, intense echoes specialized in negative space, a gorgeous climax by the end – it’s not dark or reliant on sub bass. For the first time I can remember, James has released a song with a hopeful center. From the first hint of the vocal cuts that appear in greater form later on to the staccato piano chords, “Modern Soul” exudes light. “I want it to be over” he sings in the insatiably beautiful outro, and who knows exactly what he’s talking about. I can imagine it referring to the darkness he felt before. One thing’s for sure – I don’t want it to be over.
– Kirk B.