Album of the Week: alt-J

Relaxer Out Today via Canvasback Music

Jun 02, 2017 Bookmark and Share


Find It At: AMAZON

It always seemed oddly unnecessary that an art school band from Leeds caught so much flack for not having personae as interesting as their music. Alt-J has been chased around the block by a media driven contention that the fervent popularity of their artful soul folktronica needed a punchier appeal factor from its members. It's a good thing that this affable trio were content with being "normal" and with placing all their focus into making unconventional alternative music that upends category while being accessible. Alt-J's third album, Relaxer, shows in short order that there are some bands whose music reflects an advanced way of thinking. Moreover, its eight tracks showcase a widely open minded approach that dissolves boundary, plotting new territory for its dark, deep bodied fruits.

Myriad inspirations and influences wind as water eels through Relaxer. Modern electronic production courts and glides with spectral orchestral ensemble to create a world of ambience with few current neighbors. It's an embrace of subtlety over impact, each component note, sound, beat, and texture given plenty of breathing room. Relaxer is indeed a reflection of a group that has settled comfortably and confidently into following its instincts, sharply refined on this third output that sounds less urgent and more paced out than its predecessors, 2012's Mercury Prize winning debut An Awesome Wave and 2014's This Is All Yours.

"Pleader" is the ultimate genre-buster, about as understated as a blood rushing, brothers in arms anthem could be, eliciting imagery of blue collars of a past era with a pint in one hand and the other gripping the shoulder of a brother. "Deadcrush," meanwhile, snaps of smelling salts, making your upper lip curl the way a brooding Nine Inch Nails or Mobb Deep track once did, with a serpentine spirit. "3WW," featuring Ellie Rowsell of Wolf Alice, brilliantly and unexpectedly resurrects the ethos of Queen. Meanwhile "In Cold Blood" and "Hit Me Like That Snare" are gritty funk rock departures from the rest of the album's spacious tone.

From start to finish, recessed song calls from the shadows of the environment ceded to alt- J's evolved sense of composition. As unusual as it is fulfilling, Relaxer is a brilliant mark of a band that has stayed, and expanded, its course.  

Also read our interview with alt-J about Relaxer and read our review of the album.

alt-J U.S. Tour Dates:

July 27, 2017 - Merriweather Post Pavillion - Columbia, MD
July 28, 2017 - Blue Hill Bank Pavillion - Boston, MA
July 29, 2017 - Panorama Music & Arts Festival - New York, NY
July 30, 2017 - MoPOP Music Festival - Detroit, MI
August 1, 2017 - Jacobs Pavillion - Cleveland, OH
August 3, 2017 - Starlight Theater - Kansas City, MO
August 4, 2017 - Hinterland Music Festival - St. Charles, IA
August 5, 2017 Lollapalooza - Chicago, IL
August 7, 2017 - Red Rocks Amphitheater - Morrison, CO
August 9, 2017 - Shrine Auditorium - Los Angeles, CA
August 11-13, 2017 - Outside Lands - San Francisco, CA
October 9, 2017 - Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall - Portland, OR
October 12, 2017 - WAMU Theater - Seattle, WA
October 13, 2017 - Thunderbird Sports Centre - Vancouver, BC
October 15, 2017 - Winspear Centre - Edmonton, ALB
October 17, 2017 - Big Four Building - Calgary, ALB
October 20, 2017 - Roy Wilkins Auditorium - Minneapolis, MN
October 21, 2017 - Murat at the Old National Centre - Indianapolis, IN
October 23, 2017 - Riverside Theater - Milwaukee, WI
October 25, 2017 - Express Live! - Columbus, OH
October 27, 2017 - Massey Hall - Toronto, ONT
November 3, 2017 - Raleigh Memorial Auditorium - Raleigh, NC
November 4, 2017 - ExploreAsheville.com Arena - Asheville, NC
November 6, 2017 - Nashville Municipal Auditorium - Nashville, TN
November 7, 2017 - Roxy Theater - Atlanta, GA
November 10, 2017 - The Fillmore at Jackie Gleason - Miami, FL
November 14, 2017 - Pavilion @ Music Factory - Dallas, TX
November 15, 2017 - ACL Live at The Moody Theater - Austin, TX
November 17, 2017 - White Oak Music Hall - Houston, TX

www.altjband.com

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