[ALBUM REVIEW] Alt-J: This Is All Yours
Since their debut LP washed ashore in 2012, Alt-J have completed their first world tour and come away with a Mercury Music Prize victory. Despite their early success, founding member Gwil Sainsbury chose to part ways with the group due to a distaste for the pressures that accompanied a critically acclaimed band. While this trimmed the quartet to three, it created the opportunity to prove that triangles really are their favorite shape.
The fruits of their efforts have come in the form of a second LP entitled This Is All Yours; a possible tip of the cap to fans who have stuck with them in lieu of the critics labeling of their music as bland nerd-rock. In a word, the album could be described as “epic”, with songs that are more ambient and expansive, focusing less on the Pop format then their previous effort. While the songs evoke images of distant lands you would see in an episode of Planet Earth, the boys have set our course for a place called Nara.
The journey begins with a soft accapella that provides a shining example of the skills acquired by keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton as a young cathedral choirist. While he calmly warbles over a faint guitar, the intro gains weight as it’s joined by jangly mandolins and broken percussive jabs. With drummer Thom Green focusing on production, much of the album heavily emphasizes the trio’s vocal and technological skillsets. Looming synths and the guidance of Newman’s crackly rasping make “Hunger Of The Pine” and “Every Other Freckle” most accessible to patrons of An Awesome Wave. However, the track making the biggest splash has been described by the band as “the least Alt-J song ever.” Written as a means to provide their label with a radio-friendly song, “Left-Hand Free” features a spastic organ solo and a catchy guitar riff that would fit nicely on an early Beck record.
The Leeds-based bunch will be hitting the stage at Treasure Island Music Festival before touring the U.S. through November.