This Is All Yours
Sep 19, 2014 Issue #51 - September/October 2014 - alt-J
Alt-J's 2012 debut, An Awesome Wave, is one of the great modern indie success stories. The now-trademark unconventional and accessible songs took both the independent and the mainstream music worlds by storm, catapulting the band from the blogosphere to three Brit Award nominations and a Mercury Music Prize. Everything from the band's computer keyboard-referencing name to Illuminati connotations has generated a cult fandom that few bands ever manage to achieve, quenching the music world's thirst for something truly new in the process.
Pressure runs high on the now-three piece ahead of their second LP, with bassist Gwil Sainsbury having left the band just days before they were due to start recording. Despite the undoubted elephant in the room, the resulting This Is All Yours is as brilliantly charming as anyone could have expected. It takes off from the exact point where An Awesome Wave came to a close, with everything of the alt-J we know and love still there. Yet there is enough here to prove the British trio aren't a one trick pony, either. This is a far more introspective work, delving even further into the esoteric inner workings of the band's minds.
The otherworldly layers of vocal chants on "Intro" don't so much set a tone for the album as they make a statement of off-kilter intent, flowing into the more intimate but nonetheless interesting "Arrival in Nara." "Every Other Freckle" sees the band at their most lyrically provocative, as Joe Newman croons, "Turn you inside out and lick you like a crisp packet" with disturbing honesty. Single "Left Hand Free" is a high point, with its rapid-fire vocals and drums, while the Miley Cyrus sampling "Hunger of the Pine" intrigues and beguiles in its slow build. "The Gospel of St. John" goes over that familiar alt-J ground of shapes and numbers, but late-arriving erratic drumbeats give it an edge over similar material. This is a band that does everything with the utmost precision, every minuscule part of massive importance to the end result. This Is All Yours is this process embodied, alt-J taking their distinct sound but adding and subtracting those small building blocks to make something familiar yet beautifully innovative. (www.altjband.com)
Author rating: 8.5/10
Average reader rating: 9/10
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