An Awesome Wave Album Review
Released May 25, 2012
Genre: Experimental, Indie Rock, Psychedelic Folk, Trip Hop, Art Rock
English alternative quartet Alt-J was formed in Leeds, England in 2007. Their debut album, An Awesome Wave was released in mid 2012. I use the term alternative instead of any other specific genres because Alt-J’s music is a special breed of its own. The band incorporates many instruments, styles and methods that expand throughout many different genres. Influences from trip hop, pop, rock, folk, avant-garde and psychedelic music are present throughout this LP.
This experimental mix of the genres form a sound that refuses to be classified for it jumps from one genre to the next as the album progresses. At one point there are harmonic vocals on the track “Interlude I”, twangy guitar leads on “Intro, trip hop beats on “Tesselate”, house beats on “Something Good” and a Middle Eastern sound like a sitar, echoing throughout “Taro”, just to name a few of the different varieties this album encompasses. Each track jumps onto you with an entirely different feel and it gives the album some texture and keeps it interesting for the listener, because you don’t know what’s going to happen next.
Another great part for this album is the instrumentation. The guitars glide over the songs while Thom Green’s unique approach towards the drums cling to the melody as the piano and synths bring a more calm side towards the music. At one point the track “Breezeblocks” becomes subtly guided by a small glockenspiel, ringing, providing a counter rhythm that accompanies the groove giving it a nice medium before the song really takes its toll on the listener. The vast instrumentation accompanies the album very well, contributing to the surprise factor of it. These outside elements are incorporated nicely and cleanly fit within the group’s already infectious sound.
While this album does have its breathtaking and unprecedented highs, the one thing that disappointed me was how the lyrics make no sense whatsoever and is not even sung clearly, which makes it harder to sing along to. The lyrics do have its cryptic euphemisms for cultural topics but all the while refer to obscure allusions such as triangles and broom shaped pleasures. Sure, the harmonizing and vocal melodies do have a complex arrangement, but all the while it becomes very hard to actually determine the meaning behind them all and to me just seem like they’re pulling a Sigur Ros with their lyrics and just babbling to get on through the song.
Other than that I really enjoyed this album. It really does take some getting used to in order to fully enjoy and appreciate the music that is Alt-J, but once you do, the way you listen to music will never be the same. To me, this was one of the most inaccessible albums of the year but also one of the most underrated ones. Alt-J is a different band from any other and so is their sound. However since they are heavily influenced by many other genres, it will sure enough crack open a special niche in your brain, just for them. The experience after listening really is rewarding and refreshing, like an awesome wave. It’s not for everyone, but open up to them and you’ll be pretty damn glad you did.
PRETTY NEAT MUSIC
GREAT TRACKS: Intro, Tessellate, Breezeblocks, Interlude 2 Something Good, Dissolve Me, Matilda, Ms, Fitzpleasure, Bloodflood, Taro, Hand-Made
LEAST FAV TRACK: Interlude 3