James Blake, SZA
As on James Blake’s last full-length, Assume Form, some of the brightest tracks on Friends That Break Your Heart are collaborative songs, and “Coming Back” is no exception. SZA is on a winning streak of features, appearing recently with Kali Uchis on “fue mejor” (included in last week’s Annotated On Rotation and Doja Cat’s “Kiss Me More.” “Coming Back” sees Blake trying to win back an old love, and lyrically, SZA is the perfect duet partner, skeptical of his professed love and changes: “You say you love me, is it real?” she asks with her trademark blend of insecurity and confidence, “But do you fantasize about the things you really wanna feel?”
The opening piano riff is deceptively cheerful, but Blake adds moodier layers as the song progresses. His performance is relatively restrained, matching the subtle instrumentation and electronic flourishes, which leaves room for SZA’s voice to cut through as the clear standout on the track.
“Coming Back” is emblematic of the album as a whole: A cerebral, cohesive and polished iteration of Blake’s evolving sound. Friends That Break Your Heart builds on the emotional momentum of singles like “Famous Last Words” (featured in an earlier edition of Annotated On Rotation), the first track on the album, which sets up its conceptual premise of myriad heartbreaks.