14 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Named after the keystroke for making a delta (i.e., triangle) sign on a Mac by holding down the Alt and J keys, the Leeds, England–based trio Alt-J is inspired by the symbol’s mathematical definition of change. This makes sense upon hearing the band’s handsome 2012 debut album, An Awesome Wave. Its take on postmodern pop mines the best elements from folk-rock, garage rock, dub-pop, indie rock, vintage cinema scores, and a cappella harmony before constructing layered, angular arrangements with sonic ore. Following a dramatic piano part, the opening “Intro” weaves heavily reverberated baritone guitar leads (à la Ennio Morricone) over and around looped beats and random vocal samples that all come together to play like the sons of The Beta Band. These contrast the pointed, geometric arrangements of “Tessellate” with Joe Newman’s flowing, throaty vocals and backing harmonies, which hover above the music like those of Fleet Foxes. Then, in “Breezeblocks”—a mechanically grooving standout in which a toy piano provides the lead—he inflects like Devendra Banhart imitating Jason Mraz, with overt affectation. "Hand Made” closes with folky minimalism.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Named after the keystroke for making a delta (i.e., triangle) sign on a Mac by holding down the Alt and J keys, the Leeds, England–based trio Alt-J is inspired by the symbol’s mathematical definition of change. This makes sense upon hearing the band’s handsome 2012 debut album, An Awesome Wave. Its take on postmodern pop mines the best elements from folk-rock, garage rock, dub-pop, indie rock, vintage cinema scores, and a cappella harmony before constructing layered, angular arrangements with sonic ore. Following a dramatic piano part, the opening “Intro” weaves heavily reverberated baritone guitar leads (à la Ennio Morricone) over and around looped beats and random vocal samples that all come together to play like the sons of The Beta Band. These contrast the pointed, geometric arrangements of “Tessellate” with Joe Newman’s flowing, throaty vocals and backing harmonies, which hover above the music like those of Fleet Foxes. Then, in “Breezeblocks”—a mechanically grooving standout in which a toy piano provides the lead—he inflects like Devendra Banhart imitating Jason Mraz, with overt affectation. "Hand Made” closes with folky minimalism.

TITLE TIME
2:37
1:12
3:02
3:47
1:17
3:38
3:59
3:48
3:58
3:39
0:53
4:09
5:14
2:37

About alt-J

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 Wave, arriving later that year. The album would eventually go on to earn the prestigious Mercury Prize, alongside three Brit Award nominations. They soon became mainstays on the U.K. and European festival circuit, expanding outward with tours in the U.S. and Australia as well. The band's increasing success and heavy touring schedule eventually led to the amicable departure of bassist Gwil Sainsbury at the end of 2013. The remaining trio of singer/guitarist Joe Newman, keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton, and drummer Thom Green continued undeterred, and their sophomore record, This Is All Yours, was issued in the autumn of 2014. Critically well-received, This Is All Yours debuted at number one in the U.K. and fared similarly well in Europe and the U.S., where they earned their first Grammy nomination. In early 2017, Alt-J issued a trio of singles, "3WW," "In Cold Blood," and "Adeline," in anticipation of the release of their third studio long-player, Relaxer, which dropped later that June. ~ Timothy Monger

  • ORIGIN
    Leeds, England
  • FORMED
    2008

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