Alt-J
An Awesome Wave


4.0
excellent

Review

by Ali CONTRIBUTOR (130 Reviews)
September 24th, 2012 | 174 replies | 24,086 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "Triangles are my favourite shape!"

´╗┐´╗┐Music and IQ have a somewhat testing relationship. It's a conundrum really. Writers need a certain level of intelligence if their songs are to hold any form of resonance, and yet the sharpest tools are all too often grounded by a will to exercise their own intellect at the expense of listenablity. With this in mind, it's perhaps unsurprising that the public remains a little suspicious of outward brain boxes, so the fact Alt-J have been embraced with open arms speaks volumes of what they've already achieved.

For better or worse, this quartet (from Cambridge, obviously!) epitomise pretty much everything we associate with boffin indie. Their name derives from the keyboard instruction used to usher a triangle on a Mac, they operate under the highly dubious 'folktronica' tag, and their songs are filled with obtuse literary references. All very academic. What's more, their image is that of a bunch of awkward bespectacled geeks, the likes of which you envisage locked away in a laboratory or returning home splattered with paint from an art course.

Inevitably, this whole persona spills over into their music, yet even in its most elaborate moments An Awesome Wave proves a strangely listenable affair. It's a huge sonic mass of ideas, bubbling with ideas and bustling with originality to the point where one can be made to feel claustrophobic through sheer sensory overload. Packed though it is, this creative streak lends their songs a sustained source of inspiration, rendering even the least eventful passages nothing if not interesting.

The vast majority of this record, however, is far more than interesting. Surpassing your usual perceptions of math wankery, the four-piece also excel in the not so well travelled realms of sapient songwriting. This is apparent as early as "Tessellate," a thinking man's hit which manages to channel trippy rhythms, pots 'n' pans percussion and Joe Newman's bizarre, nasally voice into an eclectic, dub-bathed triumph. Its hooks are the type that worm their way intrinsically into listener's heads, leaving a lasting impression as opposed to striving for an easier short-term impact. Most advanced.

Things only get better from then on in. "Breezeblocks," for instance twists those elements into a progressive overlapping crescendo, while "Something Good" lends them to a breezy chill-folk number that's not dissimilar from Fleet Foxes. "Fitzpleasure" on the other hand is a relatively straightforward bloodrush of thudding bass and measured tension, which for all its recorded excellence makes an even more thrilling prospect in the live environment.

Such an adept balance of craft and creativity has proved beyond many a musical mastermind, so the fact that Alt-J are flourishing proves they are already ahead of the pack. They're a band many will say are rife with promise, but the reality is that much of that has already been realised. Indeed if they maintain this upward trajectory it's almost frightening to think what a force they could become. It may, of course turn out to be a false dawn, but you'll be hearing about An Awesome Wave a whole lot more until a successor does appear.



Recent reviews by this author
King Creosote From Scotland With LoveRM Hubbert First and Last
Withered Hand New GodsThe Twilight Sad Live at Paisley Abbey
Stephen Malkmus Wig Out At JagbagsThe Strypes Snapshot
user ratings (525)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • CallumQuinn (2)
    alt-J's "An Awesome Wave" encapsulates everything wrong with the medium and mainstream ind...

    Mike C (4)
    An awesome wave indeed....

    Robbie Byrne (4.5)
    Believe the Hype, An Awesome Wave is a truly unique debut....

    derho (2)
    Remember to practice safe Tessellation...

  • Grant Thomas (4)
    Pretentious name for a solid band....

    Pentagon (4.5)
    A deeply original, inventive, and catchy debut from a band with a variety of influences....


Comments:Add a Comment 
AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
September 24th 2012



7322 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Also posted at http://www.muzikdizcovery.com/

Album's awesome. Feedback appreciated!

Ponton
Emeritus
September 24th 2012



5788 Comments


yet even in it's most elaborate moments


good review



Brostep
Staff Reviewer
September 24th 2012



3414 Comments


Nice review Ali, this album looks fantastic

camaraderie
September 24th 2012



988 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

"Triangles are my favourite shape!"


HIPSTER ALERT!!!!!!!

chupacabraisreal
September 24th 2012



205 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I am literally scared of how good this band's next releases will be. This is just their debut and it's almost perfect. Good review too!

chambered49
September 24th 2012



1727 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

ghdrevierw

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
September 25th 2012



7322 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks guys, and thanks for the nitpick Jared. Will amend.

Oneironaut
September 25th 2012



302 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Inevitably, this whole persona spills over into their music, yet even in its most elaborate moments An Awesome Wave proves a strangely listenable affair."

Nice. Pos'd. Dug this heavily on first listen, yet it's so dense that even after a couple of listens I'm discovering new tasty little parts I really like. Pretty awesome band!

SmurkinGherkin
September 28th 2012



1769 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pissed off I didn't realise these guys were so good until now, AFTER Reading fest.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
September 29th 2012



7322 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haha yeah I saw them at Leeds, thoroughly impressed. They've got a UK tour booked for spring next year...

SmurkinGherkin
September 30th 2012



1769 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Will have to catch them on that, then.

Shit my rating just bumped this down to a 4.0, I feel terrible aha.

IsolatedSymmetry
October 4th 2012



1 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Triangles are my favourite shape. Three points where 2 lines meet.

Funeralopolis
October 5th 2012



11161 Comments


this caught me by surprise, I was under the impression this sucked.

Digging: Banks - London

SmurkinGherkin
October 8th 2012



1769 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh man, Breezeblocks is such a catchy song.

Ethics
October 8th 2012



4112 Comments


wow, two million views on youtube and the song is mediocre at best
album was a disappointment for me

RosaParks
October 13th 2012



14836 Comments


checking this out

Cygnatti
October 13th 2012



21349 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

it's pretty cool bros

RosaParks
October 13th 2012



14836 Comments


saw some music vid didnt care for it

Cygnatti
October 13th 2012



21349 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i dun watch music videos because they usually suck so i dunno what to tell ya mang

RosaParks
October 13th 2012



14836 Comments


the song sucked i didnt watch the video what are you getting at



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy