Album Review: Alt – J – An Awesome Wave

The De Mello Rating: 

Usually when you talk about a band’s album sort of being all over the place or without a concrete theme the review ends up being negative. That’s mainly because we as humans crave structure. Not all of us, but most of us. Even the most chaotic of humans have routines they fall into because subconsciously your mind works that way, it does what it feels is familiar and then it becomes natural. That’s a carryover from our preternatural days that evolution hasn’t flushed out yet or has kept for survival purposes.

After listening to Alt-J’s new album An Awesome Wave I’m ready to make an exception to the rule. This album is weird, it’s ambient, it rocks you out, there’s a hidden track…it’s basically a huge, beautiful, messy clusterfuck and I love it. There are no missteps and even the interlude tracks are so magnificently constructed that it disallows any routine to be fallen into. There are no two songs that sound alike. There is nothing to compare this song to that one in terms of being structurally similar. It is a chaotic mess that for some reason falls neatly into place within the confines of my rigid brain.

When I was thinking who to compare this band to it dawned on me that it changes from song to song. For instance on “Breezeblocks” there’s a sound similar to the Gorillas meets Sean Hayes, then on “Matilda” it was like Radiohead meets Smashing Pumpkins and then I just stopped and let the music just envelop me. I had heard of Alt-J before this, but I’d never heard their music. That happens a lot. There just isn’t enough time in the day for me to check out every band I’ve heard of and consequently I end up missing out on some killer music. Don’t let yourself make the same mistake, get this album. It’s so different from anything else I’ve heard recently and so intrinsically sublime that I do so adore it.

Best Song: Matilda – There’s an almost lullaby feel to this song kind of like Radiohead’s “No Surprises”. Then it takes an almost immediate U-Turn through various ambient states and the snare drum kicks in. Then you find yourself bouncing like a bunny in an open field. This is not only the best song on the album it is one of my favorite songs of the year. Absolutely amazing.

Alt-J is currently on tour.

An Awesome Wave is on sale now.

Here is the demo for Alt-J’s gorgeous song “Matilda”:


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