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The Best Songs of 2013 (So Far)

15. James Blake "Retrograde"

Album: Overgrown
Producer: Blake
Label: ATLAS,A&M,Polydor

Sitting as the perfect centerpiece to James Blake's Overgrown, "Retrograde" anchors the whole album. The four songs before it meander and float, touching on some brilliant ideas along the way, but within the first few seconds of "Retrograde" it's clear that this album is having its moment. Fans will remember the first time they heard that haunting hum, the mournful piano, the first time Blake reaches deep and pulls out that remarkable "You're on your own..."

For all of Blake's undeniable talent and cutting edge sensibility, his best work sometimes flickers with a few great elements of melody and vocals dressed in masterfully scanty production. This minimalism is part of what makes even the smallest moments on a James Blake song feel important. "Retrograde" is an outlier in that regard: it holds its weight not in its pieces, but in its wholeness. It may be the most complete song Blake's ever released. It may also be the best. —Jacob Moore

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