Release Date: Nov 17, 2014
Record label: Fiction
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Club/Dance, Indie Electronic, Neo-Psychedelia, EDM
Stymied by a banquet of roadblocks on the road to his second LP Power, sonic summoner Fryars, alias of Londoner Ben Garrett, is finally ready for the grand unveiling. Label woes, deadline traumas and similar ilk have done their darndest to derail Garrett’s hard work, but in the five year’s since his debut Dark Young Hearts, he’s prevailed to finally release his embattled follow-up. Despite the logistical headaches that've plagued Garrett's career over the years, the result is actually very impressive.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. If there was a film based on the life of Benjamin Garrett, the man behind Fryars, it would be filled with plenty of drama of its own: a tricky split with his label before finding Fiction, a subsequent five year gap between Dark Young Hearts and Power, meanwhile collaborating on Sheezus with Lily Allen, touring with London Grammar and scoring a film. This second album is self and co-produced with Luke Smith, Rodaidh McDonald (tThe xx, How to Dress Well, Savages) and mixed by Jimmy Douglass (Blood Orange, Pharrell/N.E.R.D).
“Tell me all of your intentions/ from the heart until the smallest whim.” So sings Londoner Benjamin Garrett, AKA Fryars, on In My Arms, one of a number of winning songs on this his second album – and his first for five years. The lyric also goes some way to summing up Power, split as it is between an opening salvo of emotionally frank songs and the remainder, which are playful and clever to the point of being opaque. Don’t Make It Hard on Yourself and On Your Own are the best of the beginning, offering visions of loneliness that are raised up by beautiful melodies.
A producer/songwriter for hire who has worked with a growing bevy of left-of-center luminaries from Lily Allen to Marina & the Diamonds, Benjamin Garrett (aka Fryars) first gained public attention with his 2009 electronic pop-infused debut Dark Young Hearts. That album found him mixing a kind of '80s-does-'60s singer/songwriter psychedelia à la XTC with an utterly contemporary, DJ-influenced approach to modern pop. Begun in 2010 and infamously delayed due to label restructuring, Fryars' sophomore full-length album, 2014's Power, is a similarly quirky but even more ambitious concept album built around the fictional sci-fi storyline of a scientist whose invention of a fake sun brings about a nuclear winter.
‘Power’ marks the end of a chapter where Ben Garrett essentially lost power of his own. Ability to choose release dates, put out an entire album in one go with little build-up or hoo-hah - this is something barely any 2014 artist can strive for, let alone attempt. Thom Yorke can sky-drop a record with a Torrent client on his side, but 99.999999% of other musicians have to follow the rulebook.
Benjamin Garrett’s second album as Fryars arrives five years after his debut ‘Dark Young Hearts’ and two years after excitement-building singles ‘Love So Cold’ and ‘In My Arms’. In a recent NME interview, Garrett blamed the long and arduous delay on “label issues” after problems with his old home 679. The 24-year-old Londoner was left isolated and without an outlet for his music.
The concept of a ‘soundtrack to an imaginary film’ is a well-trodden one, but it’s one that has kept Ben Garrett busy for the last five years. Back in 2009, Garrett (who is, to all intents and purposes, Fryars) released his debut album Dark Young Hearts to an enthusiastic if guarded response and then begin what turned out to be a lengthy hiatus. It’s been a tough journey for Fryars, with bitter squabbles with his old record company 679 resulting in a long gestation period for Power, which eventually sees the light of day thanks to a new deal with Fiction.