Alt-J stays true to indie rock roots, continues to develop



Eddie Brancale

Bursting onto the scene in 2012, Alt-J hasn’t hesitated to make a name for itself.  After its debut LP “An Awesome Wave,”  the band drew the public eye and established itself as a group to watch. 

Its ability to channel Radiohead’s electronic, moody sound and combine it with dark, grunge-heavy lyricism reminiscent of the Strokes is a talent that has set it apart from contemporary bands of this decade. 

Its debut album produced gems such as “Breezeblocks” and “Matilda” (a soothing ballad that pays homage to the Jean Reno classic “Leon: The Professional”).      

With “This Is All Yours,” the band has made the leap from guitar-heavy jammers to dark storytellers, and has done so seamlessly with its sophomore album’s deep, heartfelt production.

Alt-J easily avoided the dreaded sophomore slump and expanded its musical style. The production of the album is intricate and complex, with an expansion of synth-heavy tracks and lavish drum beats. 

The hard guitar riffs reminiscent of “An Awesome Wave” still appear here on tracks such as “Left Hand Free,” but this album seeks to do more than just produce catchy, hipster tracks destined to be played at parties. 

The album is able to parlay three soft jams into a mini trilogy with “Arrival in Nara,” “Nara” and “Leaving Nara.” This “album within an album” concept is an example of how Alt-J sets itself apart from the lower tier. 

The highlight of the album is the duet “Warm Foothills.” The ballad is able to capture the essence of the album itself, while also featuring contributions from Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes.

The opening of the album leaves something to be desired, however, as it is occasionally difficult to tell what kind of mood is being set by the opening track. 

The album makes a quick recovery, though, ushering in a second half of soft-rock jams on par with the equally pleasing “An Awesome Wave.”

The key takeaway here is the consistency of these semi-newcomers. It is easy for bands to fall under the trap of a successful debut (think Foster the People and its disappointing “Torches” follow-up, “Supermodel”). 

In the case of Alt-J, this expansive new release cements the trio as mainstays in the ever-growing indie circle. Alt-J has been given the spotlight, and it doesn’t appear eager to give it back.