Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Best New Music: Alt-J's "This Is All Yours"

When you've been at the forefront - the Mercury Prize-winning, Radiohead-resembling Brit-rock forefront after only your debut album - it's pretty inevitable that you'll be entirely unable to "critically" live up to the praised foundation you laid. Sure enough, with Alt-J's This Is All Yours, their second, highly-anticipated album released yesterday, many are disappointedly piping up about the supposed incohesive, un-Awesome Wave-edness of the new collection.

And I say: fuck that. I've listened several times, straight through, in under 24 hours, and I can't see what the problem is. I've been almost moved to tears a few times. It might boast a little musical ADD, but that's everything the band represents - a magical hodgepodge of genre-blending sounds, voices, computers and feelings, pulling everything from honky-tonk to electronic to alt-rock and beyond. I almost never care how the thing flows, I care about that fact that it feels damn good and that, song-to-song, apart from their previous work, This Is All Yours is still likely better and more inventive than every one of its counterparts out there right now. My back isn't up because of an irrelevant Miley Cyrus sample - my ears are caught and I appreciate Alt-J's artistic interpretation. I don't care where each song meanders. Maybe it doesn't constantly boom and eccentrically rattle the way that An Awesome Wave did, but you just can't say an expansive, majestic collection of sounds like this is anything nearing lackluster. 

Buy this album. Whether for the double introductions, quiet instrumentation on "Choice Kingdom," innuendo-filled "Every Other Freckle," Joe Newman's breathtaking vocals on "Warm Foothills" or the anthemic "The Gospel of John Hurt." Hell, top one of those off with "Bloodflood Pt II" and its absolutely engulfing layers of piano, strings and effects. And everything in between, of course.

In the big, gorgeous blend of what's here, you'll find no sophomore slump - only many things that will make you feel alive.

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