Album Review: Broken Social Scene – Hug of Thunder

By Karsten Walter (@karseatheadrest)

Seven years after their previous release and over a decade since their arrival on the indie-rock scene, Broken Social Scene announced their new album Hug of Thunder this year, bringing back their experimental, baroque-rock sound, infused with electronic influences and grand classical orchestration. Their new release sounds new and fresh, yet reminisces of the inventive and intricate sounds found in their previous albums such as You Forgot It In People, and their self-titled LP.

The first track on the LP, Halfway Home, makes no secret of this – it’s an explosion of noise that marks the Canadian collective’s arrival, with fun and vibrant instrumentation and masterful use of dynamics and texture to create a track that is a wonderful opener to the album. As the first single the band released before the album came out, it feels like what will be the most popular track from it, and definitely the most enjoyable.

The album transitions into Protest Song, sang by Emily Haines. The versatility of Broken Social Scene is what makes the band so special, and it adds to the unique creativity that the band bring to the table with each of their album releases. The exchange of vocals between individual artists in the band highlight this, with some headed by Kevin Drew and others by fellow artists such as Feist. Haines’ vocals on this track are quaint and suit the track and its’ instrumentation. The ethereal and reverb-ridden Skyline follows, where the repetitive lyrics and guitar strums feel somewhat tiresome, showing a lack of creative consistency within the album in places.

Stay Happy is a particular strong point for the album, where the compact and sharp drums, accompanied by a prominent and strong bassline carry the track to a climactic and powerful ending, where the extra orchestration of the band are made evident. The title track, Hug of Thunder, is Feist’s delightful return to the band, after, and her vocals are absolutely perfect for a song of this intimate and discreet dynamic. Similar to Stay Happy, the synth electronic drums suit the piece again here. In an April 2017 interview with Stereogum, Feist lays out the spontaneous and brisk process for the song’s creation, and the momentum of more band members and more instruments being added in the birth of the track has worked well, creating a sentimental and meaningful piece.

Tracks such as Victim Lover seem uninspired – whilst many of the tracks on this record and many in Broken Social Scene’s past discography are inventive, out-going and experimental, Victim Lover and Gonna Get Better don’t seem to be in a similar vein, and simply don’t seem as interesting.

A highlight of the album is Please Take Me With You, a dynamically lacking piece that is a direct contrast to the explosions of sound found in parts of the album, that tells a story of a love-struck protagonist, desiring the touch and warmth of a particular someone. The breakbeat-influenced drumbeats don’t seem like they’d fit in such a quiet and romantic piece, but really help carry the song in an unprecedented way.

Hug of Thunder is a welcome return for the Canadian indie supergroup, where they made sure to implement sounds from their past and the current, and infusions that border on the future. There are some tracks that seem underwhelming but they are contrasted with emotive and clever songwriting on others, that makes for an enjoyable listen.

7/10


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Track Review: Wolf Alice – Don’t Delete The Kisses

By Rory McArthur (@RoryMeep)

Never a band to stick to one style, Wolf Alice have cast total doubt over just what the hell their upcoming second album will sound like. After hearing it’s lead single, Yuk Foo, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the band might be discarding their soft side for good; maybe even making an entire album of ferocious, angry punk rock. Latest single, Don’t Delete The Kisses though, proves any such assumptions to be just a little misguided. Totally lacking in the anger department, the track is in fact up there with the most chilled out material the RCA signed Londoners have ever produced.

Synth driven and vaguely danceable, the song, at times, recalls the vibe of previous single Bros. Like that track, DDTK conjures up mental images of scenes from twee coming-of-age movies, admittedly making for an endearingly sweet listen. The shy romanticism of the lyrics only adds to this feel, which generally avoid coming across overly saccharine and are sure to produce smiles from fans. Front-woman Ellie Rowsell herself said of the track that she aimed to create a ‘head out the window’ song, and honestly, that description is totally perfect for the atmosphere that it crafts.

Devoid of cynicism and abounding with youthful naivety, the song is impossible to hear without breaking into a little grin. It’s far from Wolf Alice at the peak of their powers, and its subtlety makes it likely to be labelled a filler track by many, but to over analyse would be to miss the point on this occasion. For lack of a better word, DDTK is just…nice. It’s a genuinely lovely little song, and although it does have its flaws, they pale into relative insignificance after a few listens. All that can really be said now is, leave your pessimism at the door, and it might just surprise you.

7/10


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Track Review: St Vincent – New York

By Sean Hannah (@Shun_Handsome)

St. Vincent’s Annie Clark is not a New York native; she was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, moved to Dallas, Texas as a child, and transplanted to The City in her 20s.  Yet on New York, her first single in two years and a harbinger of the forthcoming album Clark has declared “the deepest, boldest work [she’s] ever done,” St. Vincent name checks some of the city’s touchstones with the ambivalence only a real New Yorker can feel.

On 1st Avenue, Clark called out to her errant lover, now departed.  On 8th Avenue, she “last-strawed” the motherfucker.  And swinging by Astor Place, she realizes she’s lost most of her friends too, having abandoned them to go rub elbows with the city’s “blue bloods”.  This isn’t a love letter to the Greatest City on Earth, New York instead serves to remind us that the overcrowded cities are just as lonely as the underpopulated ones.  Not exactly a groundbreaking revelation, but Annie’s mousy vulnerability brings a fresh take on an old truism. 

St. Vincent has never been one to shy away from sentimentality.  She’s evinced a Buddy Holly-level dedication to her paramours in songs all throughout her oeuvre, whether she’s playing the heathen who chooses romantic love over spiritual salvation in I Prefer Your Love or the pugnacious girlfriend ready to butt heads with the corrupt cop who thrashed her Other Half on Strange Mercy.  This is where much of New York’s tension emanates: the unfettered adoration she feels for her lover and the remorse over his/her absence is complicated by the grandiosity of the city and Clark’s increasing disillusionment toward her adoptive home town.  Here on New York, romantic and metropolitan life are two entities constantly at odds with one another.

Musically, however, the song feels more like a re-tread than a step forward.  Featuring a closely-mic’d piano and a supportive, if unobtrusive, string section, New York would feel at home on St. Vincent’s debut Marry Me if not for the inclusion of a pulsating tom drum beat and scant synth characteristic of her most recent, self-titled record.  This kind of self-reflexivity is fitting of the song’s reminiscent lyrical tone, but as an amuse-bouche to an album purported by Clark herself to be a “sea change” from her previous work, the single doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence. 

Still, New York is a solid entry into the St. Vincent canon: it’s a warm, staid track with enough going on musically and lyrically to keep the listener enthralled.  Annie’s words are certainly catchy (“New York isn’t New York without you, love”) and the Illinois-era Sufjan-esque bridge injects some crucial dynamics into the tune.  And even though St. Vincent uses it as a backdrop for dilapidating friendships and relationships, there remains something wholly intoxicating about the city of New York in the song.  As Joey Ramone once sang, “New York City really has it all!

6.5/10 


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WORST 2 BEST: Arcade Fire

By Gemma Matthews (@screamethereal)

Our fave French-Canadian symposium Arcade Fire are releasing their fifth studio album in just over a month’s time. From what we’ve heard so far, this could be an interesting one. With singles Everything Now and Creature Comfort recently released in anticipation of the new record, there seems to be a bit of a new sound emerging – something cleaner, perhaps, with bigger swings between upbeat, celebratory pop and hazy, dirty grunge. Could this have something to do with a change in record label? Merge have released the band’s first four LPs, but Columbia have now got a foot in the door and will be releasing Everything Now on July 28th. It’s all speculative, and it’s all to play for, but for now we thought we’d look back at the beautiful, the bold and the downright bizarre moments of the band’s discography so far.

4. Reflektor

In at number four, Reflektor. The band’s fourth album was released in 2013, and honestly? It was nice. Pleasant with a good flow, but unmoving. Maybe this was a sign that a change in direction was needed, and there’s every chance we’ll see that brought around with the new label’s take on things. As it stands, though, Reflektor was brought out in good faith and under the reliable veil that the band had enough of a fanbase from the first three records to make up the numbers. This record seems to take its audience for granted and as such it loses out on its chance at a spark, which is a shame.

3. Neon Bible

Third place? Neon Bible. NB is a fantastic album and, to be honest, maybe third place is unfair. The record is the moody teenager of the collection so far, and is a personal favourite. A technically sound piece of work with attitude in passive aggressive bucketloads, Neon Bible brings the darkness. And, God, do I love it. That said, the album feels relatively small compared to what comes next for the band, and for that reason it takes third. (Small does not always equal a negative, you understand. Just in this case, it is a major contributor to the ranking. All’s fair in love and French-Canadian indie music, right?)

FULL REVIEW HERE

2. Funeral

Second place goes to Funeral. This was the band’s first LP, and a first impression for a lot of people who have since become big fans, watching the band grow from album one until now. It has a sound which now seems very classically Arcade Fire, juxtaposed with joy and what seemed at first bizarre sounds from the ether which hadn’t yet made their way into mainstream chart music. A celebration of joy and flames, and a starting point for something bigger.

FULL REVIEW HERE

1. The Surburbs

And of course, The Suburbs claims first prize. An absolutely excellent album bringing out that classic Arcade Fire sound but on a massive scale. If ever there was an album I wanted to swim in, it’s this one. The album’s lyrical content is inspired by band members Win and William Butler’s upbringing in The Woodlands, Texas, a suburb of Houston and this, mixed with beautiful, dissonant clangy noise, allowed the band to shine in a whole new way. There’s a reason why the album appears at the top of lists like this: maybe one day we’ll go into more detail about why it deserve that position. 

So there you have it. Well, almost – the absolute worst? Charging fifty five fucking quid for a show in a shitey wee venue. Corn Exchange, we’re looking at you. Wankers.


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Album Review: Big Thief – Capacity

By Sean Hannah (@Shun_Handsome)

Despite existing on seemingly disparate musical strata, hip-hop and indie rock share more common ground than one might presume. Both genres, generally speaking, tend to feature lyrics that serve to perpetuate distinct personae for their respective artists, with hip-hop espousing delusions of grandeur and indie rock false humility and overzealous self-deprecation.  Artists from either camp who indulge too blithely in these tropes tend to catch flak from audiences and critics alike; materialistic, hyper-masculine rappers are written off as tacky or contrived while lugubrious rock singers are dismissed as unconvincing and unnecessary.  

Though Brooklyn-based Big Thief fall into the latter category, their self-effacement is hardly disingenuous and their keen lyrics suggest a kinship with some of hip-hop’s more inspired songwriters.  On Capacity, Big Thief’s sophomore LP, the group deliver a reassuring continuation of the sound that so frequently impressed on their debut Masterpiece and refines the poetic lyricism of front-woman Adrianne Lenker, which effortlessly conflated unyielding sincerity with gut-wrenching viscera.   

            Similarly to Masterpiece, Capacity meshes together the warm guitar sound of late-‘60s/early-‘70s roots rock and garage music’s characteristically unpolished veneer.  “Shark Smile,” a Springsteenian tale of geographical travel and personal travail, incorporates a CCR-inspired chord progression to quell the disquiet of the song’s paroxysmal intro. On more subdued tracks like “Black Diamonds,” the lightly-distorted instrumentation butters up the otherwise dry album’s even-tempered musicianship (thanks to unsung heroes Buck Meek, Max Oleartchik, and James Krivchenia). But that’s not to say that the quieter songs falter without this roughness.  The record’s opener “Pretty Things,” with its gentle finger-picked guitar arpeggios, would be perfectly in place as a McCartney or Lennon ballad on The White Album but for its inimitable lyrical content courtesy of Lenker.  Soft or loud, Big Thief can sustain an intensity that lesser bands could only hope to achieve.

            As a lyricist, Lenker places the listener just outside of the intimacy of her songs’ characters.  Her words conversational and personal, Lenker’s songs sounds like private interactions we’ve entered in on, yet from which we haven’t been shooed.  Take “Haley” for example, whose lines “Just like how it used to be, Haley/ Kicking around, burying letters we wrote” capture the sanguine nostalgia of childhood friendship despite the distinct non-universality of the scene.  Even if the memory isn’t accessible to everyone, the bond between these two characters is. 

            Perhaps Capacity’s most pored-over song is “Mythological Beauty” due to its reportedly autobiographical third verse, but the verse preceding this highly-discussed stanza truly bespeaks Lenker’s talent for crafting lyrics.  Referring to her mother’s venture into young parenthood, the line “Seventeen, you took his cum and you gave birth to your first life” evinces Lenker’s aptitude for writing lyrics that are frank without becoming crass, personal but not indulgent.  In this regard, she’s like Frank Ocean, another songwriter who may similarly speak bluntly in his songs, yet remain stoic enough not to render a line licentious or trite.  Lenker’s air of aloofness is facilitated in part by her Karen Carpenter-like penchant for keeping an even-tempered voice throughout these songs in spite of the sensationalist subject matter therein.  Singing the affirmation “I am a beautiful bird, fluttered and floating” on the album’s title track, Lenker barely rises above the song’s mix, opting instead for a more furtive tone in her vocals. Her voice may be meek, but her ideas aren’t.

            Thematically, much of the album deals with the confrontation (or lack thereof) of trauma; “You can wake up now, Mama/ From your protective coma,” Lenker sings on “Coma,” describing the harrowing situation of a woman feigning sleep to withstand a (presumably sexual) assault.  “I can feel the numbness accompanying my plight,” from “Mary,” likewise describes the employment of unhealthy disengagement as a transitory coping mechanism for abjection.  Other times, the band depict intrepidness as a means of conquering distress, as in the line “Kissing on the vampire, Kissing on the werewolf/ We have no enemies” from “Objects.”  Singing in the first or second person, Lenker explores with adept laconicism highly personal accounts of tragedy, far beyond the lightweight clichés of unrequited love and perennial ennui that’s become well-trod territory in the indie rock community.  As such, a more apt lyrical comparison might be to Earl Sweatshirt, whose ever-increasing terseness also explores personal issues (alcoholism, drug addiction, parental abandonment) with unflinching honesty and a proclivity for astute self-reflection.

            Though Capacity never loses focus or control of its larger narrative, it suffers the pitfalls of a group whose musical identity is such that significant deviation would jar listeners, leaving it rooted in a fully developed, yet oft-repeated sound that lags in places on the album’s latter half.  The rustic instrumentation of “Haley,” while appropriate among the song’s bucolic imagery, fails to keep the track afloat and instead marks it as nondescript.  The same is true of “Black Diamonds” inasmuch as its tried and true guitar/bass/drums paradigm reduces the closing track to a modest gesture rather than a grand statement more apropos of the album’s previous heart-rending content.  

To be sure, there are no bad songs on Capacity; the album is a warm, ruminative exploration of personal strife and triumph with far more successes than failures, yet its musical consistency at times stymies it from achieving notability on each cut.  Still, Big Thief are perceptive and intuitive enough to compensate for these minor shortcomings, and Capacity serves as a confirmation that the brilliance they displayed on Masterpiece wasn’t just beginner’s luck.

8/10  


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Track Review: Motion – I Can Hear You Coming Closer

By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr

Chucking indie rock , dream pop and shoegaze into their filthy little cauldron, the Edinburgh based act Motion have finally came out their chambers to deliver their latest single I Can Hear You Coming, a track that is set to appear on their yet to be titled debut EP.

The band have been relatively quiet info, whether or not this is intentional or not is yet to be seen, with the only thing known about them is that they’re comprised of former Kitch members Paul Band and Robbie Thompson as well as Lee Shand. While they may be scare on details, their music does a fine job of speaking for Motion with I Can Hear… kicking off with an unmistakable Dandy Warhols meets DIIV vibe radiating off this glitzy, submerged intro.

https://soundcloud.com/motionmusichq/i-can-hear-you-coming-closer-1

As the track proceeds, the aforementioned shoegaze influence becomes more and more prevalent with the vocals just about being distinguishable from the tide of synths and effects that are going on alongside. Instrumentally, everything does the job just fine and carries the track over its 3 minutes and 33 seconds (pretty specific, I know) running time nicely though not much progression is made with things starting off just as they started – not so much a complaint, rather an observation that some might point out.

Overall, Motion make a more than decent attempt at putting their foot in the door and joining the shoegaze/dream pop hybrid that is slowly becoming more apparent in the Scottish music scene. Here’s hoping that as the band start to find their groove and settle in, further experimentation can be implemented to truly give their sound some oomph. 

6/10


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ALBUM REVIEW: CIGARETTES AFTER SEX – S/T

By Anna Cowan (@‪L0VESlCK)

Even by judging the band’s frank name “Cigarettes After Sex”, it’s clear to the listener that frontman Greg Gonzalez is a bit of an open book – and the intimacy and delicacy of their self-titled debut album confirms this. As though it were his diary, Gonzalez takes the listener through ebbing and flowing waves of melancholia and lust – themes which are recurrent throughout the band’s discography. 

Forming in 2012, the band rose to fame through online streaming services, as many do these days; but yet, their sound does not necessarily reflect this medium. Rather, it is soaked in nostalgia and is coloured black and white, creating an atmospheric listening experience as opposed to one of texture and diversity. Previous tracks from the band such as the notable “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby” feature simple yet deeply emotive lyrics, thus setting a tone for Gonzalez’s writing: pure, uncomplicated romance. This style remains in their debut, and is what defines it as an album of hazy passion.

The album’s opening track ‘K’ is particularly notable for using this stunning simplicity. The echoing intro and Gonzalez’s whispering vocals illustrate a simplistic love story, straight out of a Hollywood film. The direct address to the woman in the chorus could, in theory, be anyone to the listener, making this a gorgeously overly-romantic ballad.  Much of the album follows this idea similarly; “Each Time You Fall In Love” features the same light drum beat and hazy melody, but with much lonelier lyrics, clearly depicting a more sombre theme, but yet one with an underlying romantic undertone.

Sweet” stands out as a track rich with emotion, perfectly fitting the album’s theme. Gonzalez finds the perfect medium between sexy and dreamy, with lyrics such as “You know that I’m obsessed with your body / But it’s the way you smile that does it for me” depicting a passionate affair. Similarly, “Opera House” paints the picture of a love-at-first-sight romance, another beautifully crafted track with a much more hushed tone.

However, despite these moments of gorgeous intimacy, some moments on the album are almost cringe-worthy and uncomfortable. On “Young & Dumb”, the final track of the album, Gonzalez sings “Well I know full well that you are / The patron saint of sucking cock”. Indeed, Gonzalez may think this is just a bit of tongue-n-cheek humour, but it sticks out like a sore thumb when compared to the previously stunning lyricism featured on the album.

It would seem easy to some to compare Cigarettes After Sex to other ambient-indie acts such as Beach House and Mazzy Star, but this album nor do the band themselves entirely fit this comparison. Rather, it follows a very consistent structure whilst creating a different story for each track. Repetition is a slight issue for the band, however, but upon listening to the album as a whole the listener is caught in a trance of hazy dream-pop. Thus, as a whole this self-debut is a step into a lust-driven, incredibly romantic and poetic mind, and through showing the listener an almost anecdotal approach to this, a gorgeously rich and intense album is created.

7/10

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ALBUM REVIEW: PRONTO MAMA – ANY JOY

By Dominic Cassidy (@lyre_of_apollo)

After only releasing an EP and a couple of singles, Pronto Mama have made a name for themselves in the Glasgow gig scene as a funky, incessantly cool experience. The noise from Any Joy has a cool punk dive bar on jazz night feel about it, seeping cool, like Cowboy Bebop in stereo. The lyrics are reminscent of a lot of current big Scottish folk bands such as Admiral Fallow and Frightened Rabbit, stripped back and dirty to boot.

While the album does have a kind of dreamy, starry-eyed quality to it, Any Joy does flirt with some really meaty hard rock vibes, with some tracks sounding very Biffy Clyroesque in the drums and guitars. One of these tracks is easily Double Speak which gets right into it with fast hard drums, and a nice rhythm guitar sound. This track is also the best example of the Scottish-ness of the album, an aspect hard to quantify, but clear where it is: lyrics like “Some cunts get aw the birds, aw the luck, get yer top button up man,” have an undebatable Glasgow quality, but also a very youthful feeling to them.

In that aspect, the album does deal a little with being dejected and young. releaset released from the album, Arabesque; this tune is almost anthemic in the way it picks apart a relationship making it fantastically relatable and a perfect coming of age song. It does go over some tropes of young men not understanding women, and being stubborn, but strips them down to their most base, and uses them wonderfully. “This time I was half right, I’ll just act like I never knew you,” is a lyric that many listeners will see as something in themselves, a kind of situation where someone knows more than you, let’s you know it, but it doesn’t matter. “I always feel a little, and you never lose, you’re so intelligent I feel irrelevant.” is a standout example lyric-wise that gives a glimpse into something that might not be as hunky dory as it looks; this song, and this lyric especially showcases the bands song writing prowess.

There are few complaints that can be launched at the album as it is a solid debut album and a huge accomplishment for an indie band. The only thing that could be said is sometimes the overlapping orchestral barbershop feel results in some of the strong instrumentals on the tracks being overshadowed.

All in all, Any Joy is a must listen if you’re looking for something different to widen your palette: it’s a fun, bright album, which upon its end begs to be started again, right from track one, for another go around. The only question one might have for the album is what is to be expected next from Pronto Mama.

8/10

Favourite Tracks: Rubber, Arabesque, Double Speak, Sentiment, All Your Insides, Bully March


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ALBUM REVIEW: Broken Headset – Changements

By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

Submergining you in post-rock drenched guitars from the get-go, Max De Hoogd’s solo project Broken Headset makes a few things immediately clear. Firstly, despite being from Belgium, many of the themes that his songs channel don’t get lost in translation with the aforementioned intro track Am I Goin’ Insane touching on vanity, envy and ambition as well as providing light social commentary on police and showbiz. This kind of smart song-writing, at least lyrically, stands out as being unique and varied.

That’s not to say the songs aren’t pleasant to listen to though: the album opener sounds just as broody as Brand New‘s Sowing Season, to which the track bears a lot of similarites to. There’s a lot of influences coursing through the veins of De Hoogd‘s music and, for the most part, it refines his sound rather than acts as a detriment.

Clocking in at just under forty minutes, Hoogd takes on an abundance of styles, embedding them with his own Belgian tang. Take Mahdawg for instance, a bare bone track instrumentally with a lone guitar and drum being the only thing De Hoogd uses, leaving the two part story he weaves to be the main attraction. Singing of nostalgia and denial, the song takes on a very lo-fi aesthetic with De Hoogd‘s vocals satisfyingly curling around his zesty guitar in the latter half.

If that didnt scratch your lo-fi itch then there’s Nostalgia, a purely instrumental track full of dreamy synths and gentle compressed horns that would fit perfectly into any 8-bit game. It all leaves a Crywank or Dandelion Hands taste in your mouth, one that is rather easy to swallow.

With the album revolving largely around change and how people react to it, it’s a shame that one of the LP’s flaws comes from that. Certain tracks, notably What I’m Gonna Do, feel a bit more bland compared to what comes before and after though, granted, it is different enough to help further diversify the palette of sounds Changements champions. In addition to this, it can sometimes feel like De Hoogd isn’t fully getting to be himself due to the influences being so heavy handed though, as we’ve discussed, some of the act’s best music comes from this.

Criticisms aside, De Hoogd pulls off a good job on his latest LP, giving his tales of reminiscence and denial a lot of life thanks to evokative vocal performances. Once again, the variety on display and the unapolegtic impact his influences have, which result in some of Broken Headset‘s best music, leads to Changements being well worth a listen, a dud track here or there aside. To paraphrase De Hoogd on the eponymous closing track, changes are bound to happen but thankfully on this LP, they don’t bring any pain or suffering.

7/10

You can keep up to date with Broken Headset via their Facebook.


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Album Review: Alt J – Relaxer

By Becky Little (@sometimesboring) and Harry Sullivan (@radiohedge)

It’s crass intro time. Relaxer, Alt J’s most recent offering has definitely lived up to the trend set by its predecessors as being a grower, not a shower… that was a bit painful to type but it’s true.

Solely on first impressions, the album as a whole seemed a little underwhelming. Now, Alt J and underwhelming are not two things you would usually see in the same sentence. The main crux around this issue is potentially the fact that the release of Alt J albums tends to receive a lot of excitement and apprehension. However, upon the first listen, Relaxer as a whole didn’t seem to live up to the hype.

We were teased a few months ago with the release of gentle 3WW and the brash, intense In Cold Blood. It may seem to the untrained ear that these singles left us a little high and dry, as other tracks on the album arguably didn’t match the anticipation which followed the album like a stray puppy.

3ww-alt-j

ON! THE! OTHER! HAND!

Second listen. Oh, the glorious second listen. That’s where you find out that your first thoughts were wrong and in fact, that’s just what they want you to think. They want you to have to listen to it again in order to truly understand the unique cohesion, a trademark of the art-pop pioneers of the 2010s. The balance between the harsh Hit Me Like That Snare and more mellow tracks such as Last Year and Pleader is inspired, alongside the delightful cover of the iconic folk gem, House of The Rising Sun, popularised by The Animals in the 1960s.

On the topic of Pleader, the track really is reminiscent of the subtle, sparse yet powerful tracks of their debut; An Awesome Wave. The album ender almost shows signs of similarity to Intro and Bloodflood, confirming that the Leeds graduates have plunged back into their niche beginnings which propelled them to their initial success.

Alternatively, another of the pre-released singles, Adeline, bears similarities to the band’s sophomore album This Is All Yours, specifically Bloodflood, Pt. II. The track’s frantic percussion and orchestral elements towards the end also bear likeness to Woodkid’s Run Boy Run.

It is clear that the trio is drawing influence from across their discography and even potentially further afield, keeping it beautifully nerdy in the process. It’s almost as if they have gone full circle, with An Awesome Wave setting out their cleverly unique sound, This Is All Yours nodding towards the mainstream and Relaxer bringing some obscurity back home.

8/10


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