Released: Sep 22, 3014
Genre: Indie Pop, Electronic
Number Of Tracks: 13
This is the sophomore album by the band, and it goes on to further reinforce the point they were making with their first album - their sound is anything but conventional.
This Is All YoursFeatured review by: UG Team, on september 30, 2014 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: The band formed in England in 2007, originally under a few different names before settling on alt-J, or "∆," which can be typed on a Mac computer by typing "alt"+"j." Their first release was a self-titled demo EP in 2011, which they followed up in 2012 with their debut studio album, "An Awesome Wave." "An Awesome Wave" won the British Mercury Prize, and was also nominated for 3 Brit Awards. The album also won BBC Radio 6 Music's "Album of the Year" award. Touring off of that success, they wrote the majority of "This Is All Yours" while on the road, and have since won other awards for the album and the singles. The band's bassist, Gwil Sainsbury, left the band in 2014 before the recording of "This Is All Yours," and at this time isn't being replaced by a permanent member, but will have a fill in for touring. The band and Gwil claim the split was amicable and they are all still the "best of friends." The album contains 13 tracks and is roughly 52 minutes in length. The album has had 3 singles released. The lead single was the track "Hunger of the Pine," which was released on June 19th. The second single was "Left Hand Free" (released on July 15th) and then the third single was "Every Other Freckle" (which was released on August 13th).
The album opens up with a track called "Intro" that is made up mostly of some vocal sounds mixed together to create a pleasant little vocal riff that gains harmony later in the track, and still contains some minimal instrumentation. At about the halfway point of the track there are some actual lyrics instead of just vocal sounds. Of course, the lyrics are so abstract that interpretation is difficult with lines like "Escher wanna draw shit/ I pop clips/ bitch, I draw my piece to my hip." "Arrival in Nara" is up next, which is part of a 3 song cycle in the album about the city of Nara in Japan. The song has an extended instrumental intro which is basically a very beautiful melody that has a slightly oriental or Asian sound to it. The lyrics come in about halfway through the song. The song "Nara," which is the second song in the 3 song cycle on the album, opens up immediately with lyrics and is about as close as alt-J get to storytelling with their music. The song does have a very jazzy type of groove to it for most of the track. Next is "Every Other Freckle," which is actually the third single from the album, and it carries itself with swagger, with a fuzzy riff and plaintive, almost proto-blues style lyrics/vocals. "Left Hand Free" is the second single from the album and it has a whole different type of vibe than most of the album, sounding like some earlier noise pop or indie rock from the '80s or early '90s, but more like a stylistic tribute than an imitation. Borderline atonal organ/keyboard solo - check. "Garden of England" is a very short track at just over 1 minute long, and is mostly the sound of nature and a flute melody. "Choice Kingdom" opens with the sound of a faraway wind blowing, which is soon joined by a simple and slowly played guitar arpeggio and lightly sung lyrics. There are layers added to the song very slowly over the course of the track, and it remains a very chilled out piece of music. "Hunger of the Pine," the lead single from the album, opens up with a repetitive little piece on keyboard and the vocals in the beginning remind me of Queen for reasons I couldn't articulate. The song grows in layers and is carrying itself rather well just shortly after a minute in. There are vocal samples included from Miley Cyrus' song "4x4," which Miley allowed them to use for free both as a possible fan of the band and also having had Thom Green (alt-J's drummer) having done a remix of this song for Miley. The song uses the samples sparingly and don't depend on them to carry it. "Warm Foothills" opens up with some ghostly vocals "OooohoOooohOoh," which are joined by a little guitar part and then some more conventional vocals come in over a fingerpicked guitar line. The song stretches its legs a little bit near the end. "The Gospel of John Hurt" opens up with some lyrics about Tetris and moves on to some pseudo-new wave type of groove and surreal lyrics. The song gets a little bit out there (in a good way) by the end, being one of the most original songs on the album. "Pusher" opens up almost like what you would expect from an acoustic guitar-toting singer/songwriter on the coffee shop circuit, and just adds in some subtle touches such as vocal harmonies and subtle keyboard lines which is a little bit different for the band. "Bloodflood Pt. II" has a strong current of melancholy running through it and I kept finding myself rocking in my chair to the music. The song surprises me a few times but without disturbing the overwhelming sense of melancholy it is trying to communicate. The album closes out with the track "Leaving Nara" which possibly has the strongest groove on the album, being a very slow and dark groove. // 9
Lyrics: Joe Newman provides lead vocals for the band, while backing vocals are provided by keyboardist, Gus Unger-Hamilton. The vocals are sometimes performed with style being held in higher regard than the actual level of performance, which works well in the context of the band. This is one of the few modern bands I've heard trying to do interesting things with vocals that don't just include quiet/loud dynamics or using AutoTune or other processing (though the band does use some processing). I appreciate the way that vocals are used as instruments in many parts of many of the tracks. As far as the lyrics go, the band is pretty quick to get on some weird tangents. As an example of the lyrics, from the song "The Gospel of John Hurt" you have: "No space/ L-shaped/ Tetris/ Tile Seeking/ Somewhere/ Oh Somewhere/ To Fit In/ Alien/ Oh, coming out of the woodwork/ chest bursts like John Hurt/ coming out of the woods/ Jeremiah/ Looking down and you know where you're looking on down/ do you know where you go/ you're headed on the strings/ for the/ e-x-t-i-n-c-t." // 9
Overall Impression: I hadn't caught alt-J's first release, "An Awesome Wave," but I made a point to go back and listen after hearing this album. I have to say that mostly I'm overwhelmingly impressed with the band and their output. It is just different enough to set them apart from most everybody else in the alternative rock genres right now, and the songwriting is on the level. My favorite track from the album would probably be "The Gospel of John Hurt" with "Pusher," "Left Hand Free" and "Hunger of the Pines" being up near the top, as well. // 9