Jack Garratt’s sophomore record is stunning in every way. ‘Love, Death and Dancing’ is his most personal venture yet, doused in vulnerability and honesty, whilst remaining every bit danceable. Detailing his journey through mental health struggles, the album focuses on the period of learning Garratt went through after the release of his first record, exploring the two years he spent coming to terms with the success of ‘Phase’.
Each track follows a similar topic line, with Garratt noting in an interview with LDOI that “the only thing I know anything about is me, so I’ve just written an album about myself”. Glittering with power-driven synths, and finessed with an impressive production quality, the album provokes a sense of acceptance, reflecting on the turmoil of the past few years.
Garratt has devised two different tracklists for ‘Love, Death and Dancing’ –the digital version consists of four volumes, meanwhile the physical tracklisting showcases the ‘journey’ he has been on since the previous record.
Beginning with ‘Return Them To The One’, a track which contemplates the ferocity of Garratt’s live performances, contrasting the highs of being on stage, with the lows of anxiety and self-doubt: “I am alive here // But I am not permanent // I am reminded by my pain”.
The dark verses of ‘Get In My Way’ rise into a confidently powerful anthem, spinning into a brightly coloured vista of brass and synths. ‘Better’ was a standout track at Garratt’s series of live shows earlier this year, and it’s certainly the highlight of the album, propelling through fast-paced choruses packed with vibrant guitar riffs and a roaring bassline – even squeezing in a vine sample.
The softer notes of ‘Doctor Please’ are where Garratt begins to truly open up; meanwhile ‘Mend A Heart’ explores the process of tearing away from a toxic relationship, and the inability to rebuild that tie, “Here we go tumbling down // We’re buildings that fall to the ground // No, there’s no going back // Can’t mend a heart once it’s cracked.”
‘Time’ was the first track Garratt released from ‘Love, Death, and Dancing’. Set as the opening song in the digital tracklist, the physical record places it a little later on, expressing his journey from self-doubt to acceptance, portraying how conflicting thoughts nearly led him to quit making music.
Throughout the record, Garratt’s raw vocals characterise the destruction of the barriers he placed up on the first record, unveiling a deeper layer of emotions and openness which ‘Phases’ only touched upon.
Final song of the album, ‘Only The Bravest’,is a lengthy 7 minutes long, revisiting the same reflections on permanence and personal fears made in ‘Return Them To The One’, and ending with a compelling outro featuring a speech from Garratt’s father-in-law.
‘Love, Death and Dancing’ is a bold, brave, and beautiful record – and as described by Garratt himself, it’s “dance music for people who don’t want to go out”.