Published Feb 23, 2016Having recently won the BBC's Sound of 2016 Award, the growing attention given to Jack Garratt's music — mind you, all before his debut full-length — brought pressure to release a project that was just as satisfying as his EPs and worth the wait. Garratt's debut album, Phase, proves he works well under pressure and that he's been deserving of the early praise. The multi-instrumentalist combines electric guitar, drum machines, keyboards and his soulful R&B vocals to create the blend of electro-pop found on his debut.
Many of the tracks explode impressively with choruses that stand out drastically from the more subtle moments that lead up to and follow them. These are the moments in which Garratt really gets to showcase his powerful voice and demonstrate that even the intense, booming production are no match for his honeyed baritone croon. This holds true especially on opening track "Coalesce (Synesthesia Pt. II)," "Chemical" and "Fire," as he belts out "Give me your fire / Give me reasons to learn / Give me every excuse to burn / Let your flames rise." On "Far Cry," he lays down a classic UK garage sound that pervades the rest of the album. It's an early reminder that where he's from plays a huge role in his music.
His vulnerable and honest lyrics allude to the idea of obsessively yearning for someone instead of letting go. On the slow shadowy "The Love You're Given," he sings "I'm trying to give you my love but you won't let me / I've been trying to give you some space but you wont let me." The repetition of the high-pitched melody almost reminds the listener of crying, and Garratt delivers a genuinely affecting vocal performance. This theme plays again before one of the album's most captivating bass drops, "Synesthesia Pt. III," with the lyric "I hope you know that if I have to go it's only if you want me to." Garratt hits a lighter note on "Surprise Yourself," the most optimistic song here, on which he points out that it's possible to overcome this unhealthy mentality.
Phase is a strong start to Garratt's career. He gives listeners a raw, direct experience that pushes them to reflect and embrace the beat at the same time. The stirring piano-backed song "My House Is Your Home" ends with the singer letting out a dramatic sigh, as if he's exhausted from physically carrying the listener on the emotional, fulfilling journey of this album with him. (Island)