It's hard to know what James Blunt wants his listeners to think. On his Twitter feed, he's a funny, laid-back sort of self-deprecating. But on the opening lines of Love Me Better, the first song on The Afterlove, he's a sad, sensitive soul: "People say the meanest things/I've been called a dick, I've been called so many things."
Aside from the fact that Blunt begins his so-called comeback album by rhyming "things" with "things" (remarkable), Love Me Better comes across as a cry for help. He references his 12-year-old single You're Beautiful before the song veers suddenly into a strange attempt at Calvin Harris-inspired tropical house.
It's all downhill from there. Bartender sounds like it's by a Coldplay cover band, and Lose My Number is an icky example of male entitlement, with Blunt heartbroken over a "callous" girl who won't call him back ("I didn't mean to stalk you/but I saw that guy you talked to/everybody knows I'm jealous").
Though it's commendable when artists take risks and try new genres, Blunt's shot at relevance comes across as an inauthentic attempt to resurface on Top 40 charts next to much younger, fresher singers. The Afterlove is packed full of lyrics that sound like a 15-year-old experiencing his first crush, and the mediocre production walks firmly in the footsteps of post-pop Ed Sheeran or Maroon 5.
It's entirely forgettable, and at best a timely reminder of the kind of music we don't need in 2017.
James Blunt, The Afterlove
Artist: James Blunt
Album: The Afterlove
Label: Atlantic Records
Verdict: James Blunt's shot at relevance is a complete misfire