Critical Voices: alt-J, This Is All Yours

September 25, 2014

Alt-J’s new album, This Is All Yours, is like cappuccino-flavored potato chips: mystifying and unconventional, yet also a joyride for the senses. Building upon their hit debut album An Awesome Wave, alt-J undeniably confirmed its broad repertoire and eclectic influences loudly and clearly, just like their smooth, abstract lyrics. 

A softer and more intricate mix of instrumentals, tones, and beats sets this album apart from the emphatic, booming bass of fan favorites like “Fitzpleasure” or “Tessellate” from their debut release. “Hunger of the Pine” is undoubtedly the masterpiece of the album that seamlessly combines dub, saxophone, drums and, most importantly, a Miley Cyrus sample to create a banger. 

The album’s experimentation may leave you feeling as if you have fallen down the proverbial rabbit hole. Alt-J flips your listening experience upside down by creating a collection of songs that could have been recorded by multiple artists spanning across a wide range of genres, from folk-infused alternative, to synth-heavy dance jams. 

Without a common musical identity, This Is All Yours is thematically inconsistent, its aural melange more distracting than meaningful. Alt-J’s style resonates with listeners throughout the album at different times, but those may be few and far between with the amount of variety in their sound. Though each track presents a new element to layer atop the band’s confused and unique resume, without cohesiveness between songs, the album as a whole falls short. 

Proving that they are not defined by genre, but by the lack thereof, alt-J has once again broken down—or ignored—the boundaries that separate genres. On their sophomore effort, alt-J lose the single awesome wave that defined their first release, and run freely through a pine forest of disparate genres, leaving the listener hungry for a sense of cohesion. 

Voice’s Choices: “Hunger of the Pine,” “Nara”


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