Their name is derived from a keyboard shortcut, they are renowned for their obscure lyrics and they were once described to have made geometry “Raunchy”. I am of course talking about Leeds indie trio, Alt J.
Following their mercury price winning album An Awesome Wave. Alt j have made a seamless comeback, despite the shock departure of lead bassist Gail Sainsbury in January. In a recent interview, keyboard player Gus Unger Hamilton said “he was really just not enjoying aspects of the lifestyle of being in a band” but that “the band is going to be just fine”.
One of my favourites from the album and also one of the most experimental tracks, ‘Intro’ succeeds in encompassing thick choral harmonies, tribal vocals and even the occasional sitar solo. Reminiscent sounds of ‘Taro’ (An Awesome Wave) are echoed throughout whilst still allowing their new, more keyboard inspired sound through.
Next up on the Album is the chilling ‘Arrival in Nara’, the first track of a three song cycle, each referencing a Japanese city where deer are free to roam
‘Arrival In Nara’/’Nara’ and ‘Leaving Nara’ are part of a three song series, influenced by the famous Japanese city where deer are free to roam. The haunting vocals and intrinsic guitar structures tell a much darker story of a girl drowning out at sea.
With the next song ‘Every Other Freckle’ comes some of the most creative (albeit creepy) lyrics I have ever heard. “I’m gonna turn you inside out and lick you like a crisp packet” are the words that particularly stand out and give me the most graphic mental image. Grim.
‘Left Hand Free’ has all the attributes of a song for a Nikon camera advert. It’s cheesy, it’s perfect for radio and it sounds like nothing else on the album. Influences from the black keys can be heard in what as been described as the “least Alt-J song ever.” It was written in 20 minutes around a “joke” riff that Newman started playing in rehearsals one day. The drums are intentionally made as clichéd as possible said drummer Thom Green, “there’s none of my personality in it”.
‘Hunger of the Pines’ is the first single from the album and I have to admit, it is my favourite. It’s simple orchestration and vocals steadily build up until suddenly the drums kick in and the sultry voice of none other than pop princess Miley Cyrus. Taken from her song 4×4 the lyrics “I’m a female rebel” can be heard throughout the rest of the song. Thom Green approached Miley Cyrus with his idea after she featured their song ‘Fitzpleasure’ in one of her shows. Frontman Joe Newman told DIY Mag “She’s been really supportive of us, and she’s a fan … For us, it just adds that unexpected element to it.”
‘Warm Foothills’ and ‘Pusher’ hint subtle influences from the likes of Bon Iver and James Blake once again showing that this talented trio are anything but one trick ponies. This Is All Yours is as good, if not better than I expected it to be.
By Hannah Rooke