Album review: An Awesome Wave - Alt-J

By Graham Reid

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Album cover for An Awesome Wave. Photo / Supplied
Album cover for An Awesome Wave. Photo / Supplied

These days genre-ignoring bands are so common they require no introduction or explanation.

But few are as provocative as Alt-J out of Cambridge, England who pull together slivers of Anglo-folk with hip-hop beats (like sons of the Beta Band), electronica ideas rendered acoustically, electro-blip from recent Radiohead, a cappella harmonies and angular pop of the romantic Belle and Sebastian-go-prog kind.

On paper that shouldn't work, but when they nail the pop end (Matilda, Breezeblocks, the choral-inclined Ms) or get weirdly gritty (the downplayed but strange prog-pop of the twanging and sexually graphic Fitzpleasure) this really connects the dots. And Blood Flood pulls the threads together in one place.

Unsurprisingly this literate, conceptually-inclined band (lyrics linking across songs, lovely origami CD sleeve) met at university: there's intellect rather than gut instinct on songs like Tessellate and the conceit of an Intro and three inconsequential Interlude pieces which is a bit precious.

The Fleet Foxes-familiar closer Hand-Made - annoying with the hidden bit five minutes after the first part ends - shows though this is a slightly flawed confection they sound primed to be the Next Indie/Cult Thing to go middle-sized, if not bigger.

Stars: 4/5
Verdict: Press alt-j on your Mac keyboard and ... it sounds nothing like this

Buy Alt-J's An Awesome Wave here.

- TimeOut / elsewhere.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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