I didn't like this album on release, and even after many listens, my opinions are the same. I can see how he managed to break into the scene, his EP's were excellent and well received. This album was met with mixed reviews and mixed opinions. It's hard to pin point certain failures on the album because it's as the mas amount of hip fans say.. Minimal.
Everything is stripped down and taken away. The soulful aspect he tried to create, Isnt that brilliant to be honest. His vocal efforts are attempting to replicate the 60's Soul movement, it just doesn't really fit with this style of music, I can see how some people would like it. He needed lyrics and vocals over this instrumentation however, or it would be totally exposed as just basic instrumentation with little variation.
'Wilhelms Scream' is one of the stand outs for me, it's basic minimal structure is strong with the vocals. It does pick up at the end, which I enjoyed. the echo on his vocals work tremendously well here. All the 'singles' are co written, with the exception of Limit To Your Love, being a cover. That's a disturbing fact, I think he'll need to improve his song writing skills before attempting the sophomore album.
'Lindesfarne 1' then, is a waste of two minutes for me, if I wanted to hear a vocoder I'd listen to some random shit on YouTube. This isn't really any skill or musicianship here, no instrumentation except some faint synthesized strings. 'Lindesfarne 2' kicked in with a beat, this track is much better because of the simple beat and basic minimal instrumentation backing the vocoder vocal.
'Limit To Your Love' does sound good, it's the focal point on the album. The Feist track is brilliant, this version by James Blake doesn't really make many changes other than the obvious bass. The spaced out drum beat catches my ear on this track, it's nice, i like it.
Many of the following tracks follow this patter of simple Piano chords used as a backing for atmospheric vocals. Not many ear catching songs, 'I Mind' has a slightly better sound, than some of the others.
Overall, I can see how James Blake can receive a strong following, some mentioning his great piano playing and voice, these are strong points but other than that, he doesn't bring much else to the table.
EDIT (July 2011)
I saw James Blake live the other day, i didn't know what to expect. The audience was fucking awful, by that I mean.. They were all 16 - 18 year old's that had this certain way of talking and they just pissed me off. During Wilhelms Scream, people were doing the falling actions and singing along mentioning 'he's a great lyricist' I didn't bother correcting them, it wasn't worth it at the time.
But anyway.. After this i went home and had a huge James Blakeathon, listening non stop for almost 2 days. I heard some things that I didn't hear previously. Some stuff that I can note would be that it gel's rather well, the track listing is perfectly picked. I Never Learnt To Share has really stood out. I stand by my opinion that 'The soulful aspect he tried to create, Isn't that brilliant'. But overall.. i hear something different aspects each time.