Alt-J – An Awesome Wave
Folk, dub and pop are just some of the words that have been used to describe this band, and all are valid. If Radiohead, Bon Iver and The White Stripes were to meet in a basement, take drugs and record jam sessions, it would come out something like this album. The opening song Intro is an immediate stand out, starting with a gentle piano, building with a driving beat and atmospheric guitars to then climax with a groove heavy bass line and relaxed vocal phrases. The record features three little unnamed interludes, the first of which is an A Capella vocal melody, the second just uses folk guitar and the third all piano. Following the first interlude is another highlight, Tessellate, once again featuring a groove laden bass line, intertwined with electronic style percussion, strong piano chords and unique vocals. It’s amazing how this band can at time be an electronic dub jam act then in the next offer up indie folk songs like Breezeblocks.
The percussion lines are usually the main highlight in every song and although quite simple, the grooves they set in tracks like Something Good are the main reasons for this music’s appeal. The mood brightens thanks to the glittery samples used in Dissolve Me before dropping again in the solemn Matilda. The album ends on a strong note with BloodFlood, a track that takes its time building, layer by layer, offering some of the most beautiful melody lines on the record and Taro, another build-up that introduces some quirky sounds at its end, finishing the record with playful exuberance.
An Awesome Wave is one of the most interesting albums released this year, and whilst many of Alt-J’s influences can be named quite easily, this band can go in any direction with their music, and you won’t want to miss a minute of it.