Strange and Beautiful

Yet here is This Is All Yours: weird, complex, goofy, sublime, baffling and completely unlike anything else out so far this year.

By: New York Times | Published: January 10, 2015 3:27:06 am

Album: This is All Yours

Singers: alt-J

Banner: Infectious

Price: Rs 1,638 (On Amazon)

Rating: ***1/2

The new album from alt-J isn’t supposed to exist. Nobody, we’re told, wants to hear this kind of stuff anymore. The album — and especially this artsy kind of album — is dead.

Yet here is This Is All Yours: weird, complex, goofy, sublime, baffling and completely unlike anything else out so far this year. It is probably a concept album. Maybe about travelling the world and opening your eyes to new experiences. Or about hooking up. Who knows? There’s not enough time in the day to sort it out, and a lot of the references are delightfully nonsensical. Singer-guitarist Joe Newman sings about the cool side of the pillow, licking the inside of a snack bag of cookies and Tetris. The band even employs an incongruous — but somehow note perfect — Miley Cyrus sample.

There are some lush, beautiful orchestrations here — most notably the sublime Warm Foothills and lilting Choice Kingdom — interspersed with the kind of oddball pop that first drew our attention on Mercury Prize-winning debut An Awesome Wave. alt-J is at its best when it indulges its weirdest impulses, crafting angular music that bumps along elegantly like a bicycle with triangle wheels.

Left hand free pleasantly evokes Blitzen Trapper’s Wild Mountain Nation phase, a ramshackle party with exotic delights (maybe). The pulsing synth bass and Newman’s colourful lyrics are a randy come-on (probably) on Every other freckle, awkward and thrilling. And The gospel of John Hurt is a sci-fi tribute to the movie Alien.

And then there’s Hunger of the Pine, a slow building song that opens with the electronic beating of a heart, builds with the help of Cyrus singing “I’m a female rebel” from her song 4×4 on an irresistible loop and finishes in a collage of sound that’s dazzling.

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