Peer Pressure (feat. Julia Michaels)
Break My Heart Right
On 2015’s Chaos and the Calm, James Bay set his expressive voice to invigorating melodies cast in vintage blues, rock, and pop. Three years later, his experimental impulses broke through as his follow-up Electric Light drew on hazy alt-R&B, Strokes-echoing post-punk, and strutting funk-rock. Oh My Messy Mind is the sound of the British singer-songwriter taking stock and neatly consolidating all sides of his songwriting. The opening minute of the Julia Michaels collaboration “Peer Pressure” harks back to his early intimacy but soon whips itself into a storm fit for the big stages he now headlines. “Rescue,” meanwhile, adventurously blends Bay’s love of the blues with a hip-hop shuffle and gospel euphoria. He’s not forgotten the value of restraint either: Muted piano ballad “Break My Heart Right” is as stirring as anything he’s written.