The delicate dimensions of Alt-J make this band a distant relative of Radiohead and a variable of Tindersticks with velvet vocals can also spring to mind. This is all Yours is an album that never rushes the listener and its mostly gentle ways cross a variety of territories. These acclaimed Leeds lads have scored critical and commercial success with their sweet and sour songs. However, this foursome will not require a one louder categorisation on this showing.
The tunes are melodious and the vocal switches give them the edge over the likes of Everything Everything. A modern take on the disciplines of country and folk take these genres in to new domains and there is no deadwood here as the lads utilise their playing skills with natural textures.
This set can become minimalistic minimalism as voice takes centre stage with a busker’s background as the only form of support. There are also word free passages that also give no idea of the origins of this entity that formed in a Leeds University in 2007. However, there is so much going on when at the same time it can also feel there is not a great deal going on! Alt-J demands that you listen to the music and lyrics with the utmost concentration and when you do there are so many undercurrents.
Against the grain pick up a take of the KRS-One lyric ‘That’s the sound of da Police’ in a sea of choral and pastoral harmonies on the Bloodflood Pt II offering. Then you have Left hand Free a west coast festival where against the grain the ante is upped but we are not talking raucous. The other more up tempo tune comes in the form of Every other Freckle and in that mantra there is a claim that vocalist Joe Newman ‘can turn you inside out and lick you like a crisp packet’.
Recorders join the proceedings and memories of forced lessons within this aural arena float back! This is music that does not aim at rock rebellion but a softer subtle edge.
Nonetheless as we drift along there are surprises such as the sultry single Hunger of the Pine with its Miley Cyrus sample crying out ‘I’m a female Rebel’. Clever stuff!
There is also a touch of a contemporary coated Lee Hazlewood meets Glen Campbell in the Warm Foothills ballad and more Americana is tinged to The Gospel of John Hurt.
Radio Quiet FM is a home for Alt-J and in a world of chaos and calamity it is a nice option to have an outlet such as This is all Yours and the listener can salivate over the beauty in its beast. These boys can push the pace but the more aesthetic approach is definitely their favoured forte.