Alt-J: An Awesome Wave

I’ve been listening to Alt-J’s debut album, An Awesome Wave, for a while now, but it’s taken time to sink in. It is a deeply odd and idiosyncratic album, not quite like anything you’ve ever heard, it takes while to feel out its contours.

However, the album just won UK’s Mercury Prize for best album, so this seems like an apt time to bring it to your attention. (You hardy two or three who read these music posts.)

Alt-J — technically ∆ , but alt-J is the keystroke that makes one on Mac keyboards (yes, that’s a touch douchey) — is a UK indie band formed in 2007 by some students at Leeds. They have one earlier EP but this is the first full-length.

Wikipedia calls the music a "blend of layered, folk-inflected dub-pop and soaring alternative rock." Pitchfork says they sound like "Bombay Bicycle Club playing in a submarine." BBC says it "spans every workable idea, genre, and influence that can be crammed under the guitar music umbrella." NME says that with the band’s "languid melodies, clattering beats and unsettling electronic skits," they "make geometry sound sexy."

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

In short, no one knows how to describe it. For my part, I find it interesting and diverting, with lots of striking moments, but I’m not sure it all adds up to anything. It skitters and bobs and weaves but never really takes off. There’s an uncertain, tentative quality to it that would be frustrating if it didn’t serve up another one of those moments the minute impatience sets in.

Anyway, decide for yourself. This is "Fitzpleasure."

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.