Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Album Review: alt-J - This is All Yours

British psychedelic rock outfit alt-J has returned with their much-anticipated follow up to 2012’s massively popular An Awesome Wave. Sticking with a similar formula from the first release, This is All Yours continues to bring in comparisons to Radiohead. On their sophomore effort, alt-J uses layers of thick and distorted sounds to create a beautiful soundscape.

The major focus of the band on their two releases has been their ability to create enthralling musical pieces. That focus is evident on the first two tracks of the new album, as “Intro” and “Arrival in Nara” feature over eight minutes in musicianship with minimal vocals in the background Utilizing a multitude of instruments and editing and distorting them in unique ways, alt-J has been able to form a sound that makes them distinct from other current bands.

While the music on this album is beautifully done, the lyrics leave something to be desired. Lead singer Joe Newman is able to say a lot over the course of the album and simultaneously say really nothing at all. Over some tracks, lines of lyrics just feel randomly put together and not connected to a central theme or idea. Although a Miley Cyrus sample on “Hunger of the Pine” added an excellent twist to the song, the actual line has nothing to do with anything. And I’ll spare everyone the blushes over talking about the awkward sexual innuendos on “Every Other Freckle.”

This is All Yours is not quite as schizophrenic as their previous album. While the style changes are not necessarily a negative, they can lead to some troubles. The transition from “Nara” to “Every Other Freckle” is chunky and awkward because of the drastic change in tempo between the two songs. However, the pace of this album is much slower than the first. With the exception of “Every Other Freckle” and “Left Hand Free,” every track seems to wander on slowly. Even “Bloodflood pt. II,” a reimagining of an already slow track from An Awesome Wave, is slowed down.

On their follow-up album, This is All Yours, alt-J are able to take successes from their first album and change them to create another sonically beautiful release. While they are not breaking any boundaries, they are fine-tuning their sound and finding their niche.

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