alt-J play it safe with their new release but manage to produce something satisfying and overall enjoyable.
7.5/10 Released: 22 September 2014 (Infectious)
Written by Joseph Murray
There have been instances of a band having an explosive debut and being unable to meet the hype for the next release but This Is All Yours is proof that alt-J have a lot to offer to the alternative music scene. The albums sound is incredibly familiar with almost identical instrumental arrangements to their first album An Awesome Wave however, they have managed to keep it fairly fresh by developing their mix of lo-fi guitar and electronic soundscapes to a new level.
Normally a band releasing what is effectively a part two to a debut album is tiring but it’s refreshing to see that alt-J are focused on their sound and are getting a lot out of it. Their contrast between bone dry tracks to super spacious tracks is, as always, really effective and this time round the electronic aspect seems a lot more refined and it really works in their favour. Hopefully we’ll see something equally epic for their third release but it would be good to see them branch out a little further and get a little weirder. An example of this is their vocal arrangements that feel a little safe in places but perhaps this not to detract from their complexity of sounds.
Whilst not entirely hit and miss the albums strong points are incredibly good with tracks such as ‘Intro’, ‘Every Other Freckle’ and the super seductive ‘Bloodflood pt.II.’ The weaker tracks aren’t so much bad they’re just slightly out of place and irrelevant, particularly the ‘Garden of England’ interlude and ‘Pusher’. Aside from the single releases (‘Hunger Of The Pine’ and ‘Left Hand Free’) other mentionable tracks are the beautifully haunting bonus track ‘Lovely Day’ and the slightly confusing but very pretty ‘Warm Foothills’. The undoubtable highlight has to be the Nara trilogy which encompasses all of the albums elements and translates them into three outstanding tracks (‘Arrival in Nara’, ‘Nara’ and ‘Leaving Nara’) which are supremely epic.
I have no doubt that there is a lot more to come from alt-J in the future I just sincerely hope that they really push themselves for their next release and aim to generate something a bit more ambitious. Playing it safe isn’t entirely a bad thing as can be heard with ‘This Is All Yours’ but ambitious musical movements means that we don’t have Radiohead or Bombay Bicycle Club releasing the same record year after year. For a band that caused a lot of fuss back in 2012 I feel like they can definitely shake things up a little more than they have this time round and only time will tell, upon their third release, if they are indeed a one trick pony.
I feel that an important note on this album is that it shouldn’t be viewed as anything massively innovative because there is clearly no intention of this. I think that this kind of hype overshadowed their debut when really it was simply just quirky and interesting indie rock. Getting too bogged down with the idea that alt-J are the “new Radiohead” is quite crass and convoluted. Sure they’re definitely influenced by them but find me a rock band over the past two decades that aren’t. This Is All Yours is raw, menacing and layered with brooding intensity and deserves to be viewed in its own right.
Despite my minor frustrations and nitpicking, overall this album is excellent and probably one of the best of this year. alt-J were put in an impossible position for their second release with all the hype surrounding the band and I certainly believe that they have done as well as they could have given the time they’ve had. As an incredibly exciting live band I look forward to seeing them back at festivals next summer and seeing what they do with their new material on stage.
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