The release of An Awesome Wave in 2012 saw Alt-J shoved into the spotlight of indie folk/rock music, winning them the less-than-coveted yet merit marking Barclaycard Mercury Prize. Soon after, the four Britons toured internationally, playing at not only the big five US festivals, but also the O2 Greenwash.
I have to admit that I did not discover the band until late in 2013, when I streamed their live show on KEXP. I was entranced immediately by the ethereal sounds of Fitzpleasure. Over the course of the year, I became engrossed in their music, so when I heard about the release of the band’s second studio album, This Is All Yours, I couldn’t have been more excited. As September rolled around, I searched desperately for a leak of the full album, refusing to listen to any one single until I could hear the entire thing. Then, on September 17, two days before the official release date, the album was appeared.
I cleared what little was on my calendar and sat myself down on my favourite chair. The music began and singer Joe Newman’s atmospheric voice filled the room. I waited eagerly for the music to properly begin, anticipating that tell tale Alt-J intensity, but it never came. I was quite confused. Alt-J music is known for its unpredictability, but what was this? Save one or two moments, the entire album sounds like it was written while the members of the band were dozing off. Garden of England, a feudal sounding battle of flutes, was possibly the worst song that they have ever recorded. It seemed as if they were unsuccessfully attempting to run on a bumpy treadmill while performing the song. Every Other Freckle had possibly the tackiest lyrics ever written by the band: “I want to turn you inside out and lick you like a crisp packet.” I mean, seriously? I didn’t even realize that Choice Kingdom was a song; I just thought it was some sort of odd interlude where Newman breathed heavily into the microphone while the rest of the band tuned their instruments. The saving grace came at the end, Bloodflood Part II, with a pleasing mix of trombone and piano, and the same familiar lyrics, it was by far the best part of this disappointing album.