alt- j are one of a kind, that’s not always a good thing, but with them it mostly is. Their 3rd album Relaxer is very much alt-j but not alt-j. While it has all the makings of one of their albums, quirky vocals layered over genuinely well over some strange riffs and effects delivered by truly talented musicians, it definitely lacks the wow factor present on their debut album An Awesome Wave. By talented musicians, I mean talented, displayed in full fledged awesomeness on “Pleader”.
As I was listening to the album, I couldn’t help but compare it to their first one, which I find perfect. I had this distinct feeling that some of these songs definitely wouldn’t hold up the same way the old ones did and that’s true for a few, mainly “Hit Me Like That Snare” which I didn’t enjoy to say the least.
But this got me thinking about why I was holding this album up against their old one and whether this album as a standalone piece was better than I realized.
After giving it a couple of listens, and 8 tracks that’s not very hard to do. I’ve come to the conclusion that I definitely judged it harshly at first. Especially with a strong first signal like, “3WW”
I needed to take a page from the Relaxer handbook and take a moment to appreciate the music. No track made me realize that more than “Last Year”, split into two halves, this song is the best of alt-j, with all their idiosyncrasies with stunning guest vocals from Marina Hackman.
“In Cold Blood” was also a “Left Hand Free” type hit in my book.
Adeline, the 3rd single, is superb and has that classic alt-j sound and among the best of the album.
Here’s “Deadcrush” which featured on this week’s Sundae Sundae featuring guest vocals from Ellie Roswell who also featured on “3WW”
Finally, here’s “House Of The Rising Sun”a complete rearrangement of the original folk classic.