fryars

Fryars, aka Benjamin Garrett, is one of those prodigiously talented, electro-leaning solo artists whose overarching ambition, and the complete creative control they wield over their music, can sometimes appear to smother their ability. This album, his second after an unjustly muted debut in 2008, almost got a release in 2012 off the back of a couple of promising singles, but label issues halted that momentum in its tracks. A switch to Fiction Records and a reboot sees Garrett hoping that late 2014 will prove more fruitful.

‘Power’ is a highly polished record, forty-five minutes of mostly poised, pristine pop music, but the greater part of it just feels, well – thin. It’s the sort of music you might hear over the high-end sound system of a cool fashion boutique; there’s little here to quicken the pulse or move the soul, just an anodyne wave of pleasant but unfeeling sound, served up via overwhelmingly clean production.

It’s in the songwriting that ‘Power’ falls down; while admittedly ‘Can’t Stop Loving You’ is a piece of very fine soul-pop, elsewhere ‘China Voyage’ is a straight-up croon-fest, and if you performed a straight synths-for-guitars swap on ‘Sequola’ you’d have a thuddingly cheesy stadium rock ballad. At the very end of the record, there’s a sixty-second orchestral vignette, a fleeting glimpse into the true talent of Benjamin Garrett, but it’s there and gone so quickly as to leave no impact.

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