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Alt-J Is Back With A New Album. Listen To Their Two Singles

Alt-J at the Bootleg in 2012


Alt-J is a band I saw live only once, they played at the Bootleg theater almost 5 years ago, and they were almost unknown in the US at the time… Not that unknown because the line to get in was very long, but the size of the Bootleg has nothing to do with that of the venues they play now. I enjoyed the show, but they sort of disappeared from my radar after that. Then they released a second album in 2014. However, meanwhile they had become huge and I didn’t pay a ticket to see them a second time, as they must have played a larger venue like the Greek theater?

I have a vague memory of the show, 5 years is a long time, but I remember it was crowded, and this is what I wrote at the time:

‘With just one album, they have already been compared to one of the biggest bands alive, Radiohead, and nominated as a favorite for the prestigious Mercury Prize.

I am not sure about this ridiculous comparison, although I certainly heard some Radioheadish moments here and there, but Alt-J’s pretty music had running-in-cascades-of-voices harmonies, a lot of almost-a-cappella moments, and was building dreamy-sleepy landscapes. But may be that was the problem, as the four guys often seemed to vanish behind their angelic choir-like choruses and hushed vocals.’

‘All set long, it was very quiet and delicate music, with thin textures of glimmering-scratching electronica à la Thom Yorke, sporadic and discreet drumming, and vocal harmonies over harmonies (may be too many?) more monk-like than Fleet Foxes, melting with Indian tribal riffs. But strangely, the most surprising moments were always turning into the most comfy and familiar soundscapes.’

Alt-J has announced a new album and they will tour it extensively all summer-long in Europe and the US, but they have already shared two singles. ‘In Cold Blood’ was posted on Wednesday accompanied by a hard-to-watch computer animation. It’s difficult to follow the Radiohead comparison this time, and it’s probably a good thing for them. They have introduced horns mid-way into the song and the clap-along dynamism turns into some strange buoyancy. ‘3WW’ released a few weeks ago, was a very different story though, lo-fi at first with an antique guitar vibe, a cappella voices, almost medieval-sounding, then waking up with pretty guitars and plenty of loud to subtle folk vocal harmonies, a cool song that seems to combine ancient and modern, mid Fleet Foxes, mid Vampire Weekend, transforming itself as it progresses, leaving us unable to identify its real direction or origin. Both songs are extremely different and at the same time, characteristic of the band’s strange and mixed style. Good luck for reviewers at classifying the album in a genre, beside the indie

Alt-J is back, as ‘Relaxer’ will be released on June 2nd following their 2012 ‘An Awesome Wave’, and 2014 ‘This is All Yours’.


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