- 29 May 20
Jack Garratt's return to the limelight after four years is a triumphant celebration of life, self-described "dance music for people who don't go out".
When Jack Garratt skyrocketed into the public eye with the success of 2016 record Phases, he wasn’t prepared for the loneliness and hollow affection that comes along with fame. Between sold-out tours and critical acclaim, he began to buckle under the pressure. Scared and wrought with insecurities, he stepped out of the limelight as he struggled with self-loathing and suicidal thoughts. Love, Death & Dancing is the culmination of years of growth, reflection and self-preservation. A testament to courage and survival, it’s a beautifully textured and triumphant dance record for people grappling with anxiety.
Garratt shines with fully fleshed-out production. Each track is intricately layered, instrumentals building upon one another until they fill the entire room. ‘Better’, the biggest-sounding track on the record, has an incredibly satisfying electronic chorus that makes it extremely hard to sit still. It’s an energetic dance anthem about insecurity and self-destruction, begging for some sort of substance that’ll make him more likeable. It’s beautiful because it’s real, telling the story of the all-too-self-aware partygoers desperate for some sort of escapism.
His triumph is palpable in ‘Get In My Way’, where he asserts that nothing’s going to get in his way anymore over explosive brass and bass. It’s inspiring in the context of his self-loathing explored throughout the rest of the record, but his moments of vulnerability are the strongest. ‘Doctor’ stands out as an incredibly self-aware, earnest track that questions, “When’s it my turn to be okay?” The repetition of “it’s alright not to be okay” runs the risk of being cliche. But in Garratt’s hands it’s not a preach, rather a reminder to himself that he’s not a burden.
The beauty of his narrative is best exemplified by the arc in which he explores the concept of permanence. In opener ‘Return Them To The ONE,’ (an immaculately textured track that evokes the likes of Bon Iver's 22, A Million) he sings, “I am alive here, but I am not permanent” in a moment of defeat, thankful that the pain will end at some point. The first lyric of closer ‘Only The Bravest’ is “you are not permanent, but you are here”. Flipping the phrase changes everything, emphasizing now that life itself is a beautiful thing that should be cherished for the short time we exist. Throughout all his insecurities detailed across the 12 tracks, there’s a glimmer of hope and celebration of growth.
Love Death & Dancing balances the lows of mental health with the highs of dancing it all away, teeming with chill-inducing moments where the raw desperation in his voice is striking. It’s ultimately an emotional and beautiful record that subverts cliches with thoughtful lyrics and powerful instrumentals.
Out June 12 via Island Records.