The journey to Jack Garratt’s second album has been far from smooth. The multi-instrumentalist parted ways with his manager during the final period of campaigning his debut, Phase, and subsequently went through a period of deep self loathing.
Instead of applying the brakes, Garratt rushed into recording music that he ultimately scrapped. Love, Death & Dancing, arrived after a phase of self reflection, and the Buckingshire born musician decided to create a collection of songs, “that say what needed to be said, that say how I was feeling.”
Garratt also said, “I wrote this album as someone-and for anyone-who likes dancing but doesn’t necessarily want to go out on a Saturday.” What resulted is a record which is at odds with itself and, much like its title suggests, full of contradictions.
Sometimes the contradiction of open anguish, and a lust to dance, collide with spectacular beauty. Opener, and lead single ‘Time’, is a perfect mix of clever lyricism and ballsy production which erupt in theatrical unison, ultimately checking the ‘dancing at home’ criteria.
‘Mara’, ‘Return Them To The One’, and ‘Better’ all also achieve this feat. While they feature some borderline gimmicky production elements, they inject a crucial element of fun to their tough topic matters. ‘Better’, in particular is a highlight – burying any notion that ‘less is more’. You can tell every idea has been thrown onto that track, (including an iconic Vine sample), and it is all the better for it.
As the album progresses though, these grand eruptions, fall into more of a fizzle, as the contradictions lose balance. ‘Anyone,’ is actually quite a difficult listen. Its delicate and honest lyrics are bulldozed by the chaotic shotgun delivery. ‘Doctor Please’ is another track which flaunts Garratt’s new no bullshit approach to personal lyrics. But instead of opting for a stripped back approach to the production, or going full blown sad-banger like with ‘Better’, it lies somewhere uncomfortably between.
Love, Death & Dancing, ultimately continues to flaunt Jack Garratt as musical megamind, and at its highs, the album is a technicolour burst of audio ingenuity. Unfortunately the album also magnifies Garratt’s tendency to overthink. While lyrically he lays bare inner turmoils, sonically he then distracts from it, and this often dilutes the intended impact.