Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

British noise pop is a thing, Jack Garratt is here.

Posted on February 29, 2016 in Album Reviews, Arts & Culture, Music
By USM Free Press

Online

By Bradford Spurr

Jack Garratt is only 24 years old, but his debut album has already made some serious waves. It has been a big year for Garratt in the UK as well. With multiple wins from the BBC and the Brit Awards. But his music is very non-traditional and signals a shifting tide in the ebb and flow of popular indie rock. Affectionately called British noise pop Garratt has been labeled electronica, trip hop, and PBR&B the latter also claims the young crooner Frank Ocean.

Jack Garratt’s first album, Phase, ticks every box that any aspiring artist should when introducing themselves in a very crowded field of DIY indie musicians. With just him and a resonator electric guitar on the BBC 1 Lounge Garratt kills a cover of Disclosure’s “Latch.” His voice evokes warm and fuzzy thoughts of Ed Sheeran or Sam Smith with his ceiling rattling falsetto and his powerful and roaring lows.

The vocal range of Garratt is the most impressive thing about him, although sometimes he relies a little too much on his soaring falsetto to carry him through some of the ‘between beat’ moments. The entire album really plays with the use of sounds and sometimes the lack of sound in some cases.

The album is best during the opening five tracks. Maybe partially due to him being relatively unknown, it is an interesting tactic to say the least. If anyone put on this album, the chances of them changing it before the first 15 minutes are done is virtually nonexistent.

The first song is “Coalesce (Synesthesia Pt. II) starts with a shaky plea “I hope to God I’ll see you one more time and feel your warmth embrace my fragile mind, I hope you take my innocence, every night,” before something reminiscent of 2011 dubstep drops in to shake your ear drums.

The second song “Breathe Life” further explores the millennial themes of loneliness and the struggle with our own mortality at such a young age. The song lacks a traditional format where a majority of the song is composed of the verses and then a chorus will tie it all together. Here we see the same pieces of the puzzle come up but in different and exciting ways. This is where it is clear that the sound of the album is probably more important than the lyrics. “Oh, won’t you breathe life into these dead lungs I keep under my coat and keep life warm against the cold night as our bodies grow old.”

The fifth song “Worry” has been streamed on Spotify over 17 and a half million times. “My nights are broken up by the sounds of women I’ll never meet and when my eyes are closed I can start to feel you staring at me. The right side of my bed has always left me feeling stuck in between (Oh, X4).” It is a little surreal to listen to music that speaks to an entire generation, a whole group of people that are anxious about the future and feel stuck between the ideals of our parents and the insatiable, almost instinctual feeling that we are destined for something greater than whatever it is we are now. A whole slew of restless people can find solace here in Phase. Is it a perfect album? No, some parts drag and some are kitschy in a unironic way but it is authentic where it needs to be. It tries and that is better than nothing at all.