For his new LP “Friends That Break Your Heart,” out Friday, Grammy-winning alt-pop artist James Blake has come up with a different kind of breakup album.
Forget lovers — this one is all about bestie bust-ups.
“There’s a lot of people I know who are experiencing their friendships being pulled in two directions,” Blake — whose tour will land him at Radio City Music Hall on Saturday — told The Post.
“There was a lot of fear around the pandemic [that caused] people losing touch with people. Suddenly people didn’t have room for each other in their lives because they were making changes in their lives, and people were sort of finding that, ‘Oh, maybe I don’t fit in this person’s life anymore,’ or the other way around.”
The haunting atmospherics of Blake’s electronic soundscapes — topped off by his choirboy croon — provide a soothing space to mourn the death of a friendship. “There’s a lot of pressure to just move on and get over it because it’s not a romantic relationship, so therefore it can’t be that painful,” the 33-year-old said. “And I think this album kind of questions that idea.”
The classically trained multi-instrumentalist, who is in a romantic relationship with actress Jameela Jamil, got some help from a friend — Billie Eilish’s producer-brother Finneas — when it came to filming the video for his fifth LP’s first single, “Say What You Will.”
“He’s playing a kind of villain,” said Blake. “We’re good friends, and it was so sweet that he agreed to do it.”
No doubt, you can hear this Brit’s influence in the culture-shifting music that Eilish and Finneas have created. “I know that Billie and Finneas both have been really lovely about my music in the past, and the feeling’s mutual,” said Blake, who did a mesmerizing spin on Eilish’s “When the Party’s Over” on last year’s “Covers” EP. “I’ve been influenced by Billie’s music, too, so it’s just a lovely exchange.”
Blake also got a “fortuitous” assist on “Friends That Break Your Heart” from SZA, who appears on “Coming Back.”
“I was working in the studio with this incredible songwriter Starrah,” he said. “She was like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna invite my friend Solána,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, sure.’ And then SZA turns up, and I didn’t know her [real] name was Solána. Well, that was a nice surprise. And then she ends up doing a verse on one of the things we were working on.”
But Blake has been making friends in hip-hop and R&B circles for years now, collaborating with everyone from Frank Ocean to Travis Scott. In addition to serving as a producer on Kendrick Lamar’s 2017 album “Damn” and opening for him on a European tour, Blake — as one of the few white artists on the 2018 “Black Panther” soundtrack — won a Grammy with Lamar, Future and Jay Rock for the song “King’s Dead.”
“It’s funny that I won the Grammy for Best Rap Performance after never actually rapping,” he said. “I think that’s all the rapping I ever need to do.”
And Blake has worked with both Mr. and Mrs. Carter: Jay-Z and Beyoncé.
Recalling his “magical” moment with Bey on “Forward” — from her 2016 instant-classic “Lemonade” — Blake said, “When I first heard her vocals on the song, when she kind of joins me in harmony, that was chills. I’ve been a fan of hers since I was young, and I just lost it … I consider myself so f—king lucky.”