Jack Garratt, as many will remember, was the winner of BBC’s Sounds of 2016 competition. Hailing from Little Chalfont, Buckinghamshire: Garratt dedicated much of his youth to music and experimenting with it – picking up instruments as wide-ranging as ukulele and drums. Championed by BBC Radio 1 and essentially a one-man band: Garratt’s live performances have been a testament to stamina and musicianship, with huge ambitions: his enormous passion and zeal for music fed into his debut album, Phase. The L.P. was met with generally favourable reviews and signalled a talent with a definite future.
Phase ensured Garratt distinguished himself from peers Sam Smith and James Blake. Blending sweet falsetto and hard-core percussion-and-bass beats; a sub-human machinery sound and something deeply soulful and tangible. Few artists match technology and vocals and make it sounds so compelling, authoritative and wide-ranging – especially such a young artist releasing his very first album. Since then, Garratt has been busy on the touring circuit and getting his music out there. One presumes he has been chatting with Bon Iver: BYSKB v2m2 seems like a bet between the two: to see who can come up with the most ridiculous, hard-to-remember name. Luckily, like Bon Iver, Garratt’s music makes up for misjudged pretentiousness and oddity – titles that sound like computer coding or future-speak.
Far-off, yowling electronic voices sit inside a woozy gravity: Garratt’s voice comes in to stabilise the mood in the opening seconds. Seemingly apologetic and coming to his senses: he seems to be speaking to a girl; one he might have been short with. As things progress, the song becomes broader, to assess a young man taking stock and realising he has made mistakes and is not who he was. Studded, punchy beats backing his plight: BYSKB v2m2 soon sees that dependable, silky falsetto come to play. Rising in intensity and affected by the weight of the situation: that burden of heartbreak and confusion makes the song edgy and haunting. Some of the lyrics descend to cliché – giving more love than received; having to burn bad memories – but Garratt’s sheer avidity and desire elevates it beyond the mundane. The track’s final seconds is a flurry of beats, electronic notes and emotional possibilities – a whirlwind finale that leaves a definite impression.
Garratt is touring the U.K. in November: starting with a gig at 02 Academy, Glasgow (5th); finishing at Dome in Brighton on 28th. BYSKB v2m2 is a rough demo. cut but one that shows experimentation and consistency. Those expecting something similar to Phase’s general sound will not be disappointed – those predicting something rushed and forgettable will be. Perhaps not a reinvention or new phase for Garratt: it is an exciting and interesting song that will ask the questions whether a new E.P. or album is in the mind. Whatever the result will be: it is impressive to find Garratt in inspired, productive mode.