‘Phase’ by Jack Garratt Album Review: A Strong, Promising Yet Unsteady Debut
Jack Garratt may not be a name immediately familiar to most music consumers, but he has been a constantly rising presence in the British music scene over the past couple of years, performing at music festivals and opening for bands like Mumford & Sons. Phase is his debut studio album and is a tremendous effort, spanning generically from electro and acoustic ballads to dubstep and trap. Even more impressively, Phase shows the scope that a single musician is capable of achieving by harnessing both acoustic and electronic sounds on his own.
‘Phase’ by Jack Garratt Album Review
Phase opens really powerfully and some might say aggressively — Garratt has our attention right from the start with unexpected twists, dubstep-like drops and explosive beats on opener “Coalesce (Synesthesia Pt. II).” The next few songs, however, make us subside back to a more comfortable EDM vibe, similar to that of Disclosure, for example.
The singer allows back into a firmer track once he goes into some of his older pieces featured on the record. Garratt demonstrates an impressive vocal range, though he’s at his best on the higher tones and surprising falsettos rather than in the low range that has become so akin to the sentimental male indie artists. “Weathered” illustrates that point quite well. The world-weary lyrics are a bit of a transition from the more superficial vibe of the first few tracks on the album. Garratt’s vocals call to mind early Ed Sheeran songs, but the tracks is most intriguing when he breaks out of that tonality. Similarly, the melodic line is a lot more compelling in the latter half of the song when it turns into a complex layering of disparate styles counterbalanced by moments of suspended silence.
The two songs that follow — “Worry” and “The Love You’re Given” — are similarly some of Garratt’s older creations, and it is easy to see a continuation in them at least musically. Simply put, “Worry” picks up where “Weathered” left us, but putting a more electronic spin and more pronounced beats on it – something like the musical lovechild of James Blake and Woodkid, for example. The lyrics are fervent and simple. There is no excessive poeticism, just relatable truths. This said, “The Love You’re Given,” lyrics and music, is a truly earnest and heart-wrenching portrayal of unrequited love. The haunting cries that are looped till the very end of the track, the soft piano riffs and simple beats all bring an eerie, disturbing and beautiful atmosphere to one of the most impressive tracks on Phase
At times this makes the album seem too messy to handle and tracks are best to be looked at as their own entities, but regardless of the lack of an overarching narrative in Phase, there is a lot in the medley of styles and approaches that shows Jack Garratt is a name we should learn and look out for in the future.
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