The evasive search for something new in pop music is eternal and usually unfulfilled( If you want proof click here). But under the mushroom-cloud of hype surrounding this young Londoner -- voted a close number 2 in BBC's Sound of 2011 poll, so-called wunderkind, saviour of pop, "mystery wrapped inside an enigma, wrapped inside a giant metaphysical Kinder Egg of befuddlement," and lowly upstart pub singer playing with dub-step -- lies a legitimately good album. While throbbing dub-step base isn't necessarily new, his tastefully minimal approach to splicing his (sorry James, but the reference is somewhat fair) "pubby" vocals with soulful blobs of piano, sparse beats and pregnant silences, is.
The use of silence in a pop song outside the typical 2-beat-pause-right-before-the-key-change-chorus-right-after-the-minor-bridge mantra is what's particularly attention-grabbing here, along with the refreshing dissection of the layers of a pop song, alternating skeletal drum sections with atom-sized vocal loops, with nary an appearance of the essential drone of the drum-bass-guitar-synth-BGV's pop rhythm section. Blake's classical training in music and his talent for production really make a listen worthwhile, even if the hype is a little overblown. Oh, and probably the best use of Vocoder since Zapp.