Alt-J: An Awesome Wave (Infectious)

 |   |  <1 min read

Alt-J: Fitzpleasure
Alt-J: An Awesome Wave (Infectious)

These days genre-ignoring bands are so common they require no introduction or explanation.

But few are as provocative as Alt-J out of Cambridge, England who pull together slivers of Anglo-folk with hip-hop beats (like sons of the Beta Band), electronica ideas rendered acoustically, electro-blip from recent Radiohead, a cappella harmonies and angular pop of the romantic Belle and Sebastian-go-prog kind.

On paper that shouldn't work but when they nail the pop end (Matilda, Breezeblocks, the choral-inclined Ms) or get weirdly gritty (the downplayed but strange prog-pop of the twanging and sexually graphic Fitzpleasure) this really connects the dots. And Blood Flood pulls the threads together in one place.

Unsurprisingly this literate, conceptually-inclined band (lyrics linking across songs, lovely origami CD sleeve) met at university: there's intellect rather than gut instinct on songs like Tesselate and the conceit of an Intro and three inconsequential Interlude pieces which is a bit precious.

The Fleet Foxes-familiar closer Taro/Handmade – annoying with the hidden bit five minutes after the first part ends – shows while this is a slightly flawed confection they sound primed to be the Next Indie.Cult Thing to go middle-sized, if not bigger.

Like the sound of this? Then check out this.

Share It

Your Comments

Jos - Aug 13, 2012

Love these guys, best thing I've heard foe ages, the whole album is excellent.
Nicely weird.

Dean Jonasson - Aug 17, 2012

Arresting combination of sounds and textures. There are many influences and touchstones to recognize. (Being an old geezer) I also hear Howard Werth (Audience) in Joe Newman's vocals. It's how the human voice is presented, enhanced, stripped and/or reconfigured that gives Alt-J a distinctive identity. Certainly worth further investigation.

Mike ashby - Mar 14, 2013

Repeated listenings imposed by my 16yo son have convinced me that these guys are stunningly good. Beyond the wonderful textures, the wierd but wonderful instrumentation that, once you've adjusted your mind, become compelling, beyond all that are some stunning riffs and hooks and some gorgeous melodies. Matilda is just gorgeous. Like it more every time i hear it - the mark of a great album.

Mark Palmos - May 8, 2018

Wow, Dean Johansson... YES! EXACTLY!
I was searching google for Joe Newman influenced by Howard Werth singer... and what do you know, I found this post. The similarity is striking to me, and surprising it hasn't been often mentioned.

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

The Flatlanders: Hills and Valleys (New West)

The Flatlanders: Hills and Valleys (New West)

The great Flatlanders from West Texas - Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock, each one a name in their own right -- record together so infrequently that every album (they average one a... > Read more

IN BRIEF: A quick overview of some recent international releases

IN BRIEF: A quick overview of some recent international releases

With so many CDs commanding and demanding attention Elsewhere will run this occasional column which scoops up releases by international artists, in much the same way as our SHORT CUTS column... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Eddie and the Hot Rods: Teenage Depression (1976)

Eddie and the Hot Rods: Teenage Depression (1976)

As their name suggests, Eddie and the Hot Rods were never really part of the UK punk scene although -- like fellow pub rockers Dr Feelgood -- they were often lumped in with it during the late... > Read more

THE BUILDING BLOCK OF CIVILIZATION (2005): Thoughts From Elsewhere

THE BUILDING BLOCK OF CIVILIZATION (2005): Thoughts From Elsewhere

Evening in Barcelona in a small cafe near the old Cathedral. I have spent the afternoon underground and now, over rich red wine and tapas, my thoughts have turned to the humble brick. Today I have... > Read more