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An Awesome Wave

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Album Review

Named after the Mac command also used as a mathematical equation to show change, formed while studying fine art at university, and prone to throwing in the odd geometric reference within their lyrics, there are signs that Cambridge-based quartet Alt-J might be a little bit too clever for their own good. Produced by Charlie Andrew (the Laurel Collective), their debut album, An Awesome Wave, is occasionally guilty of pretentiousness, particularly the irritating a cappella vocal warmup of the interlude "(The Ripe & Ruin)." But for the most part, its 13 tracks do for nu-folk what Everything Everything's equally ambitious debut did for indie rock, breathing new life into the genre with an intriguing but accessible series of art rock twists and turns. Indeed, other than frontman Joe Newman's impassioned — if occasionally bordering on parody — vocal style, there's little here in common with the tweeness of Mumford & Sons. "Tessellate" combines the glitchy electronica of Thom Yorke's solo career with the wistful wintry harmonies of Fleet Foxes; "Fitzpleasure" fizzes along with its dubstep-lite beats and acidic basslines before it's interrupted, first by a burst of jangly post-rock and second by the kind of shimmering guitar twangs you'd expect from a Tarantino soundtrack; while "Taro" somehow melds together the unlikely bedfellows of Americana and bhangra to produce a fittingly oddball but enthralling finale. It's to Andrew's credit that these eclectic arrays of sound are woven together in a manner so effortlessly that the results never feel forced or contrived. There are a few more straightforward moments such as "Matilda," a gentle acoustic folk ode to Natalie Portman's troubled character in Léon, and the sparse, haunting "Ms." But Alt-J's wave is far more awesome when it's at its most schizophrenic. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Mint!!!

Best album ive come across in a long time! LOVE IT!

AMAZING

Honestly the best album I've downloaded in a long time, already excited for the next one!

Awesome

Totally worth the buy - def will recommend

Biography

Formed: 2008 in Leeds, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '10s

English indie rockers Alt-J, named for the delta symbol that appears when pressing "Alt" and "J" on a Mac keyboard, first formed in 2008 under the moniker FILMS. The quartet members, all of whom met at Leeds University, spent two years rehearsing before inking a deal with Infectious Records in 2011. Their signature blend of layered, folk-inflected dub-pop and soaring alternative rock was first heard on the 2012 singles "Matilda" and "Fitzpleasure" with the group's full-length studio debut, An Awesome...
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An Awesome Wave, alt-J
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