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Review: Alt-J - An Awesome Wave [Album]

Review: Alt-J - An Awesome Wave [Album]

Infectious Music // "This album is one of the best I've heard so far this year"

Review 3895 Views
Last Edited by: Chris MUG5 Maguire December 31st, 2012.

Firstly what I love most about this band is their name. You can either know them as 'Alt-J', or you can understand the meaning of the name properly (its more fun this way). They chose this name because its the function used to create the delta sign of a triangle on a Mac computer. ∆. It's pretty cool. Even more so when you know they chose it because the symbol represents change, and the recent change of their name to ∆ (still cool) came as a significant change in their lives. The idea is so unique, which is just another element that represents their music so well.

With such an epic band name, you'd hope their music lived up to it. Well it does and I'm not just saying it because it'll make this review better. This album is one of the best I've heard so far this year. It has come at a perfect time with regards to our long awaited good weather too. I listened to the album, in full, outside in the sunshine, and it complimented each track perfectly. They are definitely the band to watch at this summer's festivals. An Awesome Wave is the debut LP from the four Leeds University lads that make up Alt-J. Gwil Sainsbury (guitarist and bassist), Joe Newman (guitar/vocals), Gus Unger-Hamilton and Thom Green met at university in 2007 and since then have created one hell of a debut. It is to be released 28th May via Infectious Music.

LISTEN // 'An Awesome Wave'



Four of the thirteen original tracks don't even make it to three minutes long, with the rest edging closer to four minutes in length. It show's how versatile the group is, and how song by song they want to create something so different from the last. They flow into one another beautifully, all following a theme yet displaying such originality through different key and guitar styles to lyrical subject matters. Beginning with a song titled 'Intro' echoes the works of The XX in their own debut, as it powerfully starts the album with the intention that every track to follow will have as much body and potential as the first. Hard hitting keys with a blast of electric guitar and slow drums introduce the lyrics mid way, but its solely the music that prevails.

WATCH // 'Breezeblocks'


EP's 'Breezeblocks' and 'M∆tilda' made an impact with fans and radio stations alike, making Radio 1's playlist via the love of DJ's Huw Stephens and Zane Lowe as well as the guys recording a live session for Steve Lamacq. These two beautifully written songs both feature a different take on the tone of a love song. 'Breezeblocks' is dark in vocals and lyrics - "the queen of my vaccine"; "Please don't go, I'll eat you whole, I love you so".

Album track 'Tessellate' ooses Radiohead vibes. Sultry and relaxing, owing itself mostly to the gorgeous vocals from start to finish. The lyrics are also a highlight, featuring the lines "triangles are my favourite shape" and "toe to toe, back to back, lets go" which act as quirky little references to their love over triangles, which they manage to get away with without looking weird. Probably a highlight for me on the album is the final track 'Taro'. The song is known to be based on the combat photographer Robert Capa who died whilst on assignment in Asia by stepping on a landmine. The song embodies everything the band has to offer; a mixture of sounds. A surprising but highly infectious bhangra rhythm shines through amid chimes and strings, whilst gritty guitars arrive to counteract the previous. Its sublime.

An Awesome Wave is without a doubt one of those stand out albums; one that should be seen as a whole, rather than an LP that features a few single releases that got a bit of attention. Every full length track on this debut deserves its own recognition, and with the festival season approaching - Alt-J are performing at Parklife next month, Fuji Rock in Japan and Bestival to name a few - they will get the opportunity to deliver each worthy track to audiences willing to take a chance on watching such a young up and coming band.

I feel as though I have a somewhat strong ability to notice a great band when I first hear of them, and Alt-J have done just that for me. I hope they have the same impact on you readers.

Infectious Music are to release An Awesome Wave on 28th May

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