Review Summary: A deeply original, inventive, and catchy debut from a band with a variety of influences.
In an age in which information about a new band is splattered across the internet (ahem social media), Alt-J are still somewhat of a mystery. This is encompassed by how in their early years, they refused to show their faces in photographs, to the tumult over their name (it is the buttons you have to press to form a triangle on a mac), Alt-J are a band who only submit to the rigors of their own game.
Sonically, the album continues in a similar vein, as comparing Alt-J to any other artist would be pointless, as each song blurts and stutters with fresh new ideas and instruments. An example of this would be ‘Breezeblocks’, which starts off with a smooth R&B groove, before transforming into a more standard indie-rock affair. On the other hand, ‘Dissolve Me’ sounds like a mix between the Fleet Foxes and Foals. Despite their musical scatterbrain and experimentation Alt-J’s debut is not disorienting, as the album flows in an entirely comprehendible collection of catchy pop songs. The abundance of interludes help the album flow better as well, operating as go-between’s, of which “Interlude 3” is a perfect example of, as it sits between the strident ‘Fitzpleasure’ and more relaxed ‘Bloodflow’, and without this interlude, the two songs would not fit in together.
The lyrics on this album are as ambitious and unorthodox as well. On Breezeblocks, Joe Newman croaks “She may contain the urge to run away but hold her down with soggy socks and breezeblocks / Germolene, disinfect my scene, my love.” These lyrics are not your usual Valentine’s note yet it really is Alt-J’s own style of taking on the old that marks this an exciting record.
The charm of this album is the fact that Alt-J’s musical scatterbrain works. Before dissipating into the disappointing album closer ‘Taro’ ,Alt-J takes you onto a journey across many different genres and instruments, and akin to the XX, whose debut many considered too rounded for a debut, Alt-J take you on a complete journey which may be young and vibrant enough to be considered a road trip, yet somehow void of naivety. This debut is strong, addictive, and catchy, perfect for any mood, anywhere.