Alt-J’s An Awesome Wave is exactly what it says on the tin. AWESOME.
In just one moment your ears are clattering over a pleasurably disjointed soundscape of jaw-breaking heavy beats and scuzzy synths, while at the same time sliding through a miasma of soft and rasping falsetto vocals. Think Django Django meets Bon Iver and you’re halfway to getting your head round Alt-J’s experimental and immensely playable sound.
But comparing the band to anything leaves you footing dangerous ground. The Cambridge based four-piece remain impossible to pigeon hole with An Awesome Wave playing tribute to their talent for genre hopping, essentially the band have created something that definitely shouldn’t work, but somehow does – and incredibly well at that.
Whether it be in the dreamy outer-casement of the majestic Ripe and Ruin through to the infectious -stand-out beats of Fitzpleasure, each offering from the band is more sonically exciting than the last, while the track listing proves as well-crafted as the songs themselves, with the longer plays spliced by shorter ‘Interlude’ tracks.
Something Good serves as a personal favourite, a sure set backing track to the next emotionally strung moment in a California based teen drama (let’s face it we all love how these sound), frontman Joe’s distinctive vocals are at their softest here, driven forward by gentle percussion and trickling keyboard hooks.
To criticise An Awesome Wave is impossible, at first we mourned the absence of Handmade but its inclusion would inevitably jar one of the most well mapped albums of the year so far.
An Awesome Wave drops May 28, in the meantime stream the whole album here.
Words by Rowan Newman