The name Jack Garratt may not ring a bell, but it certainly will in a few years. Since 2014, the British native has been rapidly gaining notability in his home country, culminating in winning the Critic’s Choice Brit Award last November, joining the likes of previous winners such as Sam Smith and Ellie Goulding, last November. Capitalizing on this success, Garratt released his debut album “Phase” Feb. 19.
Garratt has a very interesting sound. His vocal range is stupendous, quickly changing from smooth croons to explosive falsettos. He also has a unique production style, with heavy emphasis on electronic music with quick, enormous drops and striking synths.
While “Phase” is 19 tracks long, very little of it is new music. Garratt included his previous EP’s, 2014’s “Remnants” and 2015’s “Synthesia” in this album. Not counting singles, there are only six completely new songs on this album. This leads to a lack of cohesion on “Phase.” Each song on its own is very beautiful, but there is no central theme or real flow between songs on this album.
“Phase” skates the line between dance and pop music. The exotic synth drops of songs like “Fire” and “Coalesce” would fit perfectly in a club, but they quickly whimper out to a dangling keys and quiet vocals. Most of Garratt’s songs follow this basic pattern: a quiet, very basic beat that inexplicity and explosively shape into a grandiose chorus, that gets more and more rambunctious as the song progresses. At their height, these songs are gorgeous, but before they ramp up, they can be a bit boring, such as on “Lonesome Valley,” where the first thirty seconds are so quiet they are barely audible.
Although Garratt is a mostly electronic producer, he plays with a variety of sounds on this album. “Breathe Life” is a bouncy, uplifting track perfect for radio play. Conversely, “The Love You’re Given” is a hauntingly gorgeous song, with looped cries and soft piano keys. Garratt even goes acoustic on “My House is Your Home,” a song so basic you can hear his piano stool creak in the background.
Garratt has a truly lovely voice, but not the lyricism to back it. There’s nothing groundbreaking, or really interesting. The happier songs on this album are basically just happy with very little substance. And the sadder songs are all about loving someone too much, or not being loved enough. Nothing revolutionary at all. Garratt sounds like a mix of Mumford & Sons and James Blake, but with much simpler lyrics.
Garratt is a truly gifted musician. He sings, produces, plays multiple instruments and writes his own lyrics. “Phase” was a one-man show. Garratt’s talent shines through his music, but not his artistry. Some of the best songs off of “Phase” were from previous projects, and his newer material felt unoriginal. Garratt could be a standout new artist, he just needs to find what works best for him. “Phase”, while a good debut, is not his best.