alt-J: The Dream (Canvasback/Infectious Music) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, June 1st, 2023  


The Dream

Canvasback/Infectious Music

Mar 02, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

British trio alt-J are back with their first record in five years, and it’s a dreamy, dark, fully-developed ride. Alt-J’s music has always walked the line between hypnotizing and bewildering stylistic expression. And the band found their equilibrium on their 2012-released seminal album, An Awesome Wave. However, since then, their records have lessened in enthrallment and fallen flat. That is until now on their fourth studio album, The Dream.

One can only assume that in the half-decade gap since 2017’s Relaxer, time was spent in inward contemplation—and it paid off. The Dream brings back all the technique that makes up alt-J while showing the band’s immense growth.

The album, just short of 50 minutes, starts with layers of scuzzy guitar on opener “Bane” (that is, after a sample of the band’s tech-guy opening a can of Coke) and what follows is a sprawling ballad about drinking. It’s a simple, fresh song that sets the tone for the rest of the album. From there, the album’s themes range from the rise and fall of cryptocurrency (“Hard Drive Gold”), love (“Powders”), serial killers (“Losing My Mind”), and the pandemic (“Get Better”), each song filled with more sharp electronic textures, fuzzy reverb, and glossy atmosphere than the one before.

Like its predecessors, The Dream is much less about the songs (with their nonsensical lyrics), but about the mesmeric experience you feel when you listen to them. The record is a “hello” to new fans with a nod to the old: it’s wistful, lush, and precise. With The Dream, we see a band dig deep into themselves and mature as artists. It’s exciting to see where they go from here. And hopefully we don’t have to wait another five years to find out. (

Author rating: 7/10

Rate this album
Average reader rating: 8/10


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.