Friday, August 1, 2014

Music Review

In 2012, the iTunes album of the year had a lot of people confused, if not a little angry. An Awesome Wave certainly was awesome, but at that point in their career, not many people knew about the upstart band from London, England. Since then, they’ve become alt-rock legends. 

Point one for iTunes.

My brother is the number one example of what it means to be an alt-j fan. 
     “When did their album come out again? 2010? 2008? It’s been forever since they’ve had
     new music.”
     “Who even knew about this album when it came out? No one, that’s who.”
     And the best one: “They’re the kings of trippy music.”

All of this is not only true, but relevant to the new album the boys announced for release September of this year. Since the band formed in 2007, they’ve released only one full length album—but it was a doozy. Packed with amazingly intuitive tracks like Bloodflood, Dissolve Me, and the trio of hits Breezeblocks, Tessellate, and Fitzpleasure, An Awesome Wave was the album that no one knew about but totally deserved the 2012 album of the year.

But then the news stopped coming. Devoted fans like my brother waited patiently for what seemed like five years (thus him thinking the album released in 2008) for the next bit of music to pop up from the most innovative alternative band on the radar. After about two years, it seemed all hope was lost.

And then! Revival!

On June 9th, 2014, the long and arduous wait was over. The boys (now minus their adorable co-founder and guitar player Gwil Sainsbury) announced the release of their second full length, due on September 22, 2014. My brother, the word's most emotionless texter, sent me the joyous news in all capital letters to show his excitement. 

It was time for a new era of alt-j. 

The wait wasn’t quite over, though. Despite announcing a release date, the boys left fans with little to console them until the faraway days of September. No singles, no nothing. All of the tracks were sitting there on iTunes, cruelly grayed out as if to taunt those who had waited for so long. 

Ten more days past, and another miracle. A single! A real single that could be downloaded and played to the heart’s content. Hunger of the Pine was like a drop of water after crossing the largest dessert. Our alt-rock thirst has been quenched. 

The song itself took a little getting used to. First of all, it looks long—filling five minutes with continually good music is not easy, even for the “kings of trippy music”. On first note, it seems like appropriate prerelease material. Then comes the (seemingly awkward) interlude section, complete with female vocals (a bit from Miley Cyrus's song 4x4--read more here) and a synthetic brass section. For a moment, the listener sits confused, but willing to give it a shot. And boy, is it worth that shot. By the end of my first listen, I was so excited by the seamless synthesis of the old sound with the new sound that I clicked play again and again. I fell in love instantly. And my brother immediately gave his sign of approval. 

So far, so good. 

A few weeks later, and the boys gave fans one more hook. Left Hand Free has listeners everywhere bopping up and down to the beat, humming along to the ridiculous organ solo. That song is all about pleasing people, as stated in this article, but it makes for a really catchy defiance. Fans and critics alike love it. Though purposefully not as intricate or effortlessly beautiful as other tracks, Left Hand Free gets all the fans excited for September and the release of all the other songs.

These songs couldn’t have come at a better time. The alternative world has gone through some changes as of late, none of which I personally see as a step in the right direction. Electro pop is not the same as alternative rock with a shot of creativity, as many people seem to think. The genre needed something new, something different to inspire a jump back toward an honest, full fledged synthesis of electronic, synthetic, and alternative rock. 

And who better messiahs than the guys who started the trend in the first place? 

The new era for alternative begins now.

If you want to pre-order This Is All Yours, head over to iTunes or the alt-j store to purchase a CD, a vinyl, or both. Then, sit back and wait until September, when alt-j fans everywhere--myself and my brother included--will rejoice the second coming of their musical saviors.

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