Alt J – This Is All Yours Review

Alt-J

Alt-J return with their follow up to 2012’s An Awesome Wave with a new album entitled This Is All Yours.  Their debut had a mixed bag of reviews but at the end of the day they earned a Mercury Prize and a fair bit of commercial success from it so it’s pretty damn fair to say that it was a solid debut. Like An Awesome Wave, this album is another example of introverted difference and intrigue with a keener sense of space enhancing sounds, thought fluctuating lyrics and variations of what they’ve already created. A refinement perhaps. A task of perfecting what was created in An Awesome Wave which is a rather safe bet for the dreaded second album. A natural and more gradual progression but have they managed to keep their sound fresh and new?

The first track from it ‘Hunger Of The Pine’. It’s a track that gladly throws up some unexpected methods and is ultimately a rejection of the same old structures and riffs. This is music for 2014. Not 2004. It opens with drops of whirring synths which join as one into a subdued rotation as the soft edged vocals cautiously meet it. A more solid drone ever so gradually creeps up on the song and lifts it before the percussion and beat kicks in. Here you’re oddly met by Miley Cyrus albeit a sample of her singing ‘I’m a Female Rebel’ which almost act’s as a circulating rhythm section itself. From here the song continues to lift with an assortment of percussion and vocal combinations along with that Miley sample. It actually works incredibly well. The song breaths and moves fluidly and the sample just hammers home the array of elements that combine so well. There is no definite function or structure, yet it does not require it. A dynamic and more importantly a modern piece of music.  ‘Every Other Freckle’ continues on this path and in may ways combines elements of their first two singles together in this one. The drawn out and long slung riffs combined with the intricate electronica and vocal harmonies. It occasionally fades into lone vocal segments and has a sustained buzz throughout, via the dub-like electronica. It fluctuates in every department. Some times the guitars are delicate and drawn out, at times distorted or even clean and wiry. The vocal unisons and structure also alter and move to the style of instrumentals being deployed. An odd song for sure, but another track that intrigues and keeps your undivided attention in an intimate and immersive way. ‘Left Hand Free’ is a song featuring a jangling and loose riff filtered out through a slightly faded and distorted production and recording to evoke a classic feel to it. The laid back and easy guitar charged track is complemented by flashing synths as they cascade across the guitar’s drone. Make what you want of the lyrics. They’re hardly holding much meaning within them but not every track is. Not as strong or as bold at ‘Hunger of the Pine’, but a track showcasing their dynamism and studio ability.

‘Arrival In Nara’ is a sparse and muted guitar and piano track which is something more akin to a film soundtrack upon the main characters “big decision” or “reflection” and the feather-like vocal harmony and sting combination hammers or more nudges home this message of warm and intimate folk-like tracks that are very different from their singles in every way as it’s slips into the track ‘Nara’ in what is a nice piece of flowing continuity which sees the raised vocals push the song into some steady riffs and chimes that are tied in to piano chords and then fall away abruptly for monk sounding vocals in isolation. The other instrumentals come back into the track for a light churns and reverbs of the guitars alongside the glimmering synths and drones behind it. ‘Choice Kingdom’ operates in a similar fashion with the lapping acoustic chords and the bold vocal harmonies asserting their authority over a song with acres of space to do so. ‘Warm Foothills’ is another to carry on with this theme and by this point of the album, it becomes a bit of a weary task to take on but the line by line vocal rounds are a point worth talking of. ‘Bloodflood II’ offers to give you the same but the heavy percussion and distorted synths in conjunction with the brass parts, mean the song alters it’s feel and tone to something more immediate and worthy of your undivided attention and ‘Leaving Nara’ gives a similar glimpse of that with a greater atmospheric punch.  In general the intrigue and dynamism of their singles are largely lost in a lot of sleepy, acoustic niceties, which despite being delivered well and being okay in their isolation, but when the album was sold on tracks like ‘Hunger of the Pine’ and ‘Every Other Freckle’; you feel a little sold short.

Alt-J – This Is All Yours = 7/10

Single Review – Alt J – Every Other Freckle

Alt-J

Alt J are back with a third single off their upcoming second studio album in This Is All Yours which is out on September 22nd. It already looks to be a rather promising album with a large amount of variety and introverted difference about it to make it sound fresh and adventurous. Their latest single ‘Every Other Freckle’ continues on this path and in may ways combines elements of their first two singles together in this one. The drawn out and long slung riffs combined with the intricate electronica and vocal harmonies. It occasionally fades into lone vocal segments and has a sustained buzz throughout, via the dub-like electronica. It fluctuates in every department. Some times the guitars are delicate and drawn out, at times distorted or even clean and wiry. The vocal unisons and structure also alter and move to the style of instrumentals being deployed. An odd song for sure, but another track that intrigues and keeps your undivided attention in an intimate and immersive way.

Single Review – Alt-J – Left Hand Free

Alt-J

Following up on the wonderfully odd and distancing ‘Hunger of the Pine’ as they continue the build up to their new album This is all yours; Alt-J return with another track off the album with ‘Left Hand Free’. It’s a song featuring a jangling and loose riff filtered out through a slightly faded and distorted production and recording to evoke a classic feel to it. The laid back and easy guitar charged track is complemented by flashing synths as they cascade across the guitar’s drone. Make what you want of the lyrics. They’re hardly holding much meaning within them but not every track is. Not as strong or as bold at ‘Hunger of the Pine’, but a track showcasing their dynamism and studio ability.

 

Single Review – Alt-J – Hunger Of The Pine

Alt-J

Alt-J return with their follow up to 2012’s An Awesome Wave with a new album entitled This Is All Yours which is due for a September release. An Awesome Wave had a mixed bag of reviews but in the end they earned a Mercury Prize and a fair bit of commercial success from it so it’s pretty damn fair to say that it was a solid debut. For their second LP they are releasing the first track from it ‘Hunger Of The Pine’. It’s a track that gladly throws up some unexpected methods and is ultimately a rejection of the same old structures and riffs. This is music for 2014. Not 2004. It opens with drops of whirring synths which join as one into a subdued rotation as the soft edged vocals cautiously meet it. A more solid drone ever so gradually creeps up on the song and lifts it before the percussion and beat kicks in. Here you’re oddly met by Miley Cyrus albeit a sample of her singing ‘I’m a Female Rebel’ which almost act’s as a circulating rhythm section itself. From here the song continues to lift with an assortment of percussion and vocal combinations along with that Miley sample. It actually works incredibly well. The song breaths and moves fluidly and the sample just hammers home the array of elements that combine so well. There is no definite function or structure, yet it does not require it. A dynamic and more importantly a modern piece of music.