London electronic phenom James Blake meshes spare atmospheres with well-mannered arrangements on his debut, yielding a warm and lush sound that emphasizes texture and production over structure. Take the classical piano that drives "Give Me My Month," or the chopped 'n' screwed gospel hymn that is "To Care (Like You)." Blake favors minimalist beats cushioned with pointed silence; the perforated snaps of '90s R&B dot "The Wilhelm Scream," while drippy trip-hop sprouts on a cover of Feist's "Limit to Your Love." This no-fuss instrumentation allows his soul-cracked croon to lead the way. Still, for all the album's tiny sonic pleasures, the emotional impact is somewhat muted. Blake's music is so impeccably abstract, and so stylish, it doesn't leave room for much depth. — Annie Zaleski
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.