Little over a year ago, a band from Leeds released 4 demo tracks onto their soundcloud, releasing their self described “folk-step” to the world. As word spread, critics latched onto the quartet and their unique genre and expectations began to rise. Would this band be able to live up to their initial tracks? Would they expand on their heavy-synths and light guitar riffs?
12 months down the line, and Alt-J have released their first LP An Awesome Wave, and it’s safe to say they’ve gone far beyond any expectation that was put on them. On first listen, it is a well crafted strongly put together album. The album works on so many levels, and acts well as a showcase of Alt-J’s capabilities as artists and the talent that they have at their disposal.
The intro track balances heavy bass and drums, with the delicate vocals of Joe Newman and acts as a statement as to where the album goes from here. Rattling through the amazing ‘Tesselates’ and ‘Breezeblocks’, the second of which is the bands first single, combines masses of vocals, bass, drums, guitars and synth to bring together crashing choruses and gorgeous verses.
‘Something Good’, ‘Dissolve Me’, and ‘Taro’ act as the calmer songs on the album, but are still interesting pieces to listen to and are absolutely breathtaking pieces of song writing with the latter song, ‘Taro’ taking elements of Bhangra to give the album a final genre twist before signing off the album.
Joe’s voice carries through the album acting as a constant throughout a changing and evolving LP. The album takes the listener quite brilliantly through genre, tempo and ever-changing moods. Gwil, Gus and Thom have to be congratulated for their versatility in the album, combining all manner of folk, indie, alternative and hip-hop influences to create the complex songs of this album.
Songs such as ‘Something Good’, which is a lovely piece of song writing, move away from the heavy bass and focus more on the depth and layers of the band with piano and synth being brought to the forefront of the recording, are contrasted with the likes of ‘Fitzpleasure’ which features heavy synth verses but still manages to show off their delightful guitar riffs in parts. The album is well split up with 3 interlude tracks, that act as a break from the intense songs and the constant change of pace and tone in the album.
This will be an album that lives on for a long time, and with such innovative and creative song writing, rightly so. Hopefully the band can carry this talent through their career, and bring even more to the table with their next LP, but for the minute Alt-J can take this. The album reveals more and more depth to their songs with every listen, and will be in many record players for months to come. Alt-J have set the bar high this year, and frankly I can’t see much surpassing this in terms of quality or originality. Frankly any fan of indie or alternative should give this at least one listen just to hear the range of songs on this album. So far this is my favourite release of 2012 so far, and absolutely love it. Thank you Alt-J, just pure class.
By Daniel Clayton
Dance Yrself Clean