As album number two begins to trickles in, it seems little has changed since James Blake's first, eponymous album joined the dots between dubstep and Nick Drake. The London producer with the voice like a bruise remains perennially inconsolable here. On painterly soul tracks such as DLM, the clock is always stuck at 4am; the aim: going one more desolate than the xx. But Blake has been breathing rarefied air, taking inspiration from Brian Eno, Kanye West and Joni Mitchell throughout the recording process. When a loved-up RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan contributes verses to Take a Fall for Me, the disconnect makes for great punctuation. Tracks such as Retrograde, meanwhile, could almost be described as "banging".
Kitty Empire is the Observer's pop critic. She has written for NME and occasionally crops up on Radio 4, 5Live, BBC 6Music, and has appeared on BBC2's The Culture Show and Newsnight Review. @kittyempire666