- In 2015, George FitzGerald released his first solo LP, Fading Love, a pop house album with crossover appeal, and a big departure from his dance floor-focused work on labels like Hotflush and Aus Music. (At the time, he said the name not only referred to a former flame, but also his receding interest in club music.) The LP found FitzGerald landing on a sound he seemed comfortable with. His latest album, however, suggests that he's become a bit too comfortable. Despite moving cities—he returned to London after a years-long stint in Berlin—and significant life changes, including becoming a father, All That Must Be reflects little of that upheaval. The LP has its bright spots, but it feels like a pale facsimile of his last album.
The album's best track, "Burns," has three crescendos, each one bigger than the last. Its "uh uh uh" vocals, a downpitched vocal sample, from the indie band Little Cub, and the arpeggiated synths are undeniable. The same can't be said for the following track, "Roll Back." The intro's sombre strings and Lil Silva's plaintive vocal successfully evoke nostalgia and regret, though harder hearts might find it too syrupy. "Nobody But You," featuring another vocalist, Hudson Scott, is better. It pulses where the former plods, with bright pads and a low-pitched vocal that drips with despair as the song's titular phrase, chopped and layered on top of itself, is uttered over and over. Try as he might to distance himself from the club, emotive dance floor fare is still what FitzGerald does best.
The big-name collaborators inspire mixed feelings. Tracey Thorn is at once regal and somewhat remote on "Half-Light," as if speaking to an estranged lover from behind a distant window. The stripped-back, half-spoken verse initially feels ominous, but the chorus sparkles, with twinkling keys and Thorn languidly repeating, "When I'm on my own with you." Bonobo, with whom FitzGerald began touring last year, lends his moth-wing percussion and delicate textures to "Outgrown." As a pleasant if unobtrusive palate-cleanser, it reinforces the feeling that All That Must Be was made with the live show in mind. The LP has lulls and peaks in all the right places, culminating with "The Echo Forgets," whose chugging builds and drop would sound immense in clubs (or even larger venues).
All That Must Be is a smooth journey from start to finish, but it too often feels familiar. In spite of a new cast of collaborators, little about the LP improves on its predecessor. What sounded unique from FitzGerald three years ago isn't quite as satisfying this time around.
01. Two Moons Under
04. Roll Back feat. Lil Silva
05. Siren Calls
06. Nobody But You feat. Hudson Scott
07. Outgrown feat. Bonobo
08. Half-Light feat. Tracey Thorn
09. The Echo Forgets
10. Passing Trains