Awash with rippling arpeggios, muted beats and lazy, understated vocals, the debut album from Berlin-based, British born producer/DJ, George FitzGerald, has a chilled air which belies its appeal as a pure dance album. Throughout the 10 tracks on Fading Love, beats an insistent pulse interwoven with tasty high-hat percussion, stabs of synth, sly build-ups and popping syncopation that compliment rather than contradict the relaxed vibe and makes this a versatile listen – for seat or soles. Fading Love wasn’t intended to deliver a raft of frenzied floor-fillers and instead FitzGerald has produced a sublime blend of the emotive and the energetic.
A lazy intro and the smooth vocals of Oli Bayston, of indie rock band Boxed In, open the album with ‘About Time’ and set a moody tone for the pessimistic lamenting over love’s demise that defines the album’s fatalistic title. In the words of FitzGerald, “it’s a bit of a breakup album.” Sure enough, the first single, ‘Full Circle’, one of the album’s more melodic tracks bound to appear this summer on balconies across Ibiza, showcases Bayston’s deep, velvety tones bemoaning how:
“You’re always starting the fights/Endless days, endless nights/Girl you’ve come full circle/We’ve come full circle”
Yet with FitzGerald’s balanced production these melancholic songs sit comfortably more striking tracks; witness the steelpan riffs in ‘Knife to the Heart’, the droplets of atonal melody running through ‘Beginning at the End’ and the screaming synth that cuts through ‘Crystallise’.
In the mid-section, Fading Love lowers its head and focuses on the dance floor. The compelling, reverberating drumbeat and layered crescendo of ‘Beginning at the End’ is followed by dark delight, ‘Shards’, elements of which – including Bayston’s haunting echo – call to mind the genius of Oakenfold’s Goa Mix. Unsettling stabs of laser synth pierce ‘Your Two Faces’ until it opens into a bouncing crowd-pleaser which ends all too abruptly when insistent, mournful lyrics – this time from Lawrence Hart – herald ‘Crystallise’, the longest track on the album. Introducing the track for its first world-wide airing, FitzGerald cited both New Order and Depeche Mode as his inspiration, drawing on the classic period of the beginning of British electronic music. If that’s the case, though, FitzGerald’s Fading Love provides far more sophisticated fare.
Closing the album, ‘Miyajima’ is a tiny, lapping wave washing us to Hart’s soporific whispering vocals in the final trippy track, ‘The Waiting’, emphasising that Fading Love isn’t a standard club house mix of 10 banging tunes. For that reason perhaps it won’t please the crowd but nonetheless, it’s a beautifully crafted exploration of sentiment perfectly suited to a night’s partying until the sun rises over the last stragglers, still dancing.