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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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New alt-J album less accessible than its first, but the sound is just as original

Provided
The band alt-J is known for its incendiary sound, writes Jack Riewe. 
Provided The band alt-J is known for its incendiary sound, writes Jack Riewe. 

Six days after the release of alt-J’s second studio album, “This Is All Yours,” it was No. 1 on UK’s Official Albums Chart. In the follow-up to the debut album “An Awesome Wave,” alt-J tries to reestablish the incendiary sound it is known for.
It’s hard to deny its youthful talent after listening to “An Awesome Wave.” Songs such as “Tessellate,” ”Breezeblocks” and “Fitzpleasure” secure its cult following among college students.
However, the “Awesome Wave” era is over, and a new one begins.
After the announcement of the departure of bassist and cofounder Gwil Sainsbury, fans cringed, fearful of missing a crucial piece to the band’s experimental noise. That leaves lead singer Joe Newman, who creates a haunting voice that can’t be copied, Gus Unger-Hamilton, an important keyboard component to their sound, and Thom Green, who may just be the most promising contemporary drummer of the decade.
At first listen, it is natural to compare “This Is All Yours” to “An Awesome Wave.” You may even say it’s better. It may be a heated debate, but “This Is All Yours” fails to generate the fulfillment “An Awesome Wave” gives. Every track on “An Awesome Wave,” you are able to jam to. “This Is All Yours” is more for the established alt-J fans — the ones who love everything the band does. From the perspective of those new to alt-J, “This Is All Yours” is slow at times and gives off a heavier vibe in which listeners may feel they are missing a part of the story if they don’t listen to the debut album.
The album starts with a song titled “Intro,” and looking at the track list one can’t help but notice the amount of interludes fused into the album — reminiscent of the previous one.
The album doesn’t prompt head-bobbing until “Nara,” an eerie but powerful track.
Then we get to the more radio-friendly songs like “Every Other Freckle” and “Left Hand Free,” which were released as singles. The sound of “Left Hand Free” is more like a song you’d hear from The Black Keys or an early Red Hot Chilli Peppers track. It certainly is not the best song on the album, but it shows growth and experimentation for an already-experimental band.
The album completes its first half with “Garden of England-Interlude,” continuing to “Choice Kingdom,” which is the most useless of all the songs — it doesn’t tell us anything about the band that we don’t already know.
“This Is All Yours” builds up again with “Hunger Of The Pine,” featuring Miley Cyrus. It was a smart move by the band because it incorporates a thriving pop star, but does not compromise the originality.
“Warm Foothills,” “The Gospel Of John Hurt,” “Pusher” and “Bloodflood pt.II” form the undeniably best part of the album. Pushing the limits of their creativity and producing music fans didn’t expect — and pulling it off — demands respect.
The journey ends with “Leaving Nara,” a track which makes you reluctant to leave such a beautiful place.
As a band, alt-J can be compared to an early Radiohead, which is fair. However, you could also compare it to this generation’s Pink Floyd, because its members push the limits of alternative music, use unique instruments and can have an instrumental and not lose interest. Even though it’s only on its second album, alt-J has the potential to be better than both Radiohead and Pink Floyd. This may be considered an overstatement, but after listening to both albums you’ll see why.
Jack Riewe is an English sophomore and life and arts writer for The Battalion.

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