The new hypey-McHyperson on the block seems to be London-based multi-instrumentalist and winner of the 2016 BRIT Critics Choice award, Jack Garratt, but is there any fire behind the smoke? We listened to his latest platter, Phase, to find out.
The first thing you realize upon hitting PLAY is that the pervasive impact of Ableton Live upon the otherwise helpless music community enables a completely different style of rock star to emerge. In this case, Garratt seems to have adopted the overly familiar Williamsburg lumber-sexual look.
So, what's his music like, you ask?
Good question. It's apparent Garratt's sound owes much to hip-hop, but that his exposure to traditional song-craft appears somewhat limited to the pop-choruses grafted onto otherwise non-melodic rap tracks by the likes of Eminem and Kanye.
"Breathe Life" is a never-ending chorus repeat with minimal breaks to create a rudimentary ebb and flow. Whether it succeeds as a song depends largely upon one's own tolerance to hearing the same phrase repeated over and over before the listener hits the "SKIP"
The unfortunate downside to TV commercials becoming that most coveted of promotional vehicles for one's songs is that the songs themselves seem to be created for the sole purpose of being condensed down to a 30-second snippet. With this in mind, you can almost see the sporty car commercial that ultimately uses "Far Cry" as its soundtrack.
There is much chatter made of Garratt's reportedly wide-range of musical styles, but, sadly, few seem to have made it to the final version of this album, which winds up sounding less like a sprawling musical pastiche and more like a collection of samey-sounding hip-hop infused pop choruses that fail to create any real sense of delight, for the performer or the listener.
"Weathered" exists only to give the ladies something to listen to until the next Ed Sheeran song comes along, but fails to deliver the necessary vocal performance to drive home the obligatory ear-worm chorus.
"The Love Your Given" beats a falsetto vocal loop into the ground but fails to deliver little else to hold our attention that we haven't heard a million times before.
By the album's eighth track, it seems we're hearing the same synth patches, the same kick and snare sounds, and the same vocal inflections, yet, on this deluxe 2-CD package, we've got ten more songs to go.