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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

November 24, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Review: Garratt’s style shifts create exciting album

"Phase"

Jack Garratt

After five EPs, Jack Garratt, a singer-songwriter from across the pond, released his first studio album, “Phase,” a gleeful, thrilling mashup of garage, jungle, pop and rock that makes it a habit to never stay in one genre for too long.

“Phase” opens with “Coalesce,” the second song of his electro-orchestral “Synesthesia” series. The third song in the series is included on “Phase” as well, but “Pt. I” is only on the Deluxe edition. Although “Coalesce” starts as a light electronicpop piece, there are times when it rockets into tempestuous, howling vocals with deep bass transformations — the kind of wild escalation that makes “Phase” so much fun.

The next track, “Breathe Life,” boasts a crisp, revving, electronic pulse on its chorus while teasing a groovy undercurrent. “Breathe Life” and its following track, “Far Cry,” awaken the album with an infectious dance rhythm unmatched by anything else on “Phase.”

Much of the album sizzles with a popping energy courtesy of Garratt’s piercing falsetto and an inclination toward a style that’s constantly changing, even within the same songs. For instance, in “Fire,” Garratt begins with isolated, love-song vocals but then incorporates a dance floor beat that rises and sways until the song transforms into a full-fledged energy trip with a pounding electronic backtrack and prominent hip-hop chorus.

On “Weathered,” Garratt abandons the dance-craze tracks, instead choosing to wax soulful with some introductory organ then shift to acoustic guitar and restrained vocals. It builds a rare calming piece in an album full of emboldened electro-pop.

When Garratt first signed on to an independent record label, he intended to produce an acoustic blues album. Although he abandoned that album several years ago, his fascination with blues and acoustic storytelling can be found not only in “Weathered,” but also in the opening of “Worry” and in the closer, “My House Is Your Home.”

Garratt uses the majority of “Phase” to construct a profile of electronics, pop and dance-floor energy, only to peel it all away with that closing song. “My House Is Your Home” exposes all of Garratt’s raw emotion and uninhibited soul — the track even contains the creaking sounds of the chair Garratt is sitting in as he plays the piano.

While his first album mostly pairs pop-rock with dizzying indie electronica, Garratt packs enough musical diversity and soulful surprises into his inconstant style to incite listeners to eagerly await his second release.