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Album Review: Alt-J – This Is All Yours

2 min read

More anticipated that the birth of the next royal baby – the innovative genius of Alt-J’s second album- This is All Yours – cannot be adequately described by words. Following the resounding success of their debut album An Awesome Wave in 2012 – an album applauded for it’s intriguing experimentation with sounds and styles – no one knew what quite to expect from the British trio behind Alt-J.

alt j this is all yours album coverThe bands new LP This Is All Yours is dominated by tessellating flavours of sounds, that shapeshift from quaint murmurs of different acoustic instruments, to more edgy washes of synth-laden sounds, permeated by the drumming finesse of Thom Green. The album is a slow motion journey through an enchanting forest, guided by the seductive vocals and fuzzy guitar noises produced by Joe Newman and Gus Unger-Hamilton. Each song harbors an organic unconventionality that makes the seemingly spontaneous mood changes of songs such as Warm Foothills and the most recently released single off the album Every Other Freckle seem only logical.

This Is All Yours testifies the theory that no two Alt-J songs sound the same, or even similar to one another. The three singles the band teased fans with in the build up to the release of the album – Hunger of the Pine, Left Hand Free and Every Other Freckle – where all incredibly different from one another. The sparse, ethereal sounds of the eery track Hunger of the Pine, sounded nothing like the drawls of electric guitars and throbbing drum beats of Left Hand Free or the erratic changes from folk song to pop song to rock song that define Every Other Freckle. The rest of the album is no different. The hazy fog of synth that hovers over Choice Kingdom compared to the purely acoustic lullaby, Pusher or the mesmerizing, choral chants of Intro are examples of how each track is a foray into the music unknown, with the only certainty being the comforting presence of Newman’s charming voice.

The “song cycle” of the album, according to Gus Unger-Hamilton is made up of tracks Arrival in Nara, Nara and Leaving Nara. In case you’re geography isn’t the greatest, Nara is a Japanese city renowned for it’s exotic history as the original capital city of Japan and numerous ancient Buddhist temples and shrines. Arrival in Nara begins as a bucolic slow dance between a distant guitar and piano, completed by the whispers of a violin and delicate vocals. Nara sees this composition of instruments grow into a more vibrant wave of sounds, peppered with oriental vibes. The poignant bass and fuzzy drumbeats lend a sense of finality to Leaving Nara – completing this mystical journey through the Japanese city, adding an extra, mysterious dimension to the album.

In short, the album is the musical equivalent to a box of brightly coloured, expertly made macaroons that will undoubtedly shake up the musical world and cement Alt-J’s reputation as musical geniuses.