Three years after their sophomore album "This Is All Yours," alt-J is back with "RELAXER," an eight track journey through an effervescent and ethereal world. With an album full of twangy guitars and a deep basses, an overall sound that is both inviting and relaxing is presented to the listeners.
An overarching theme of the album is nature, which is presented on both the opening track "3WW" and the closing track "Pleader." Imagery of the open sky, deep woods and all that lie within them is presented throughout. Tracks like these correlate well with alt-J's signature atmospheric style and they illustrate a world that is dreamy and ethereal all at once. With these tracks, the MO of the album is pretty clear, "Stop and smell the roses."
Things take a turn with "Hit Me Like A Snare." With what might be alt-J's most aggressive track to date, listeners are sure to be left confused. Weren't we just enjoying the blissful sounds of a traditional folk song, "House of the Rising Sun?" Suddenly, alt-J presents us with some questionable lyrics such as "fuck my life in half," as they try to be #relatable. Unfortunately, this track lacks the poeticness and maturity of some of the album's more successful songs.
With that being said, alt-J does have moments in this album where being aggressive works in their favor. "In Cold Blood,"
which is a reference to Truman Capote's novel of the same name, dazzles us with the interweaving vocals and circular instrumentals that are essential to an alt-J single -- turned up a few notches. If you're coming into this album looking for a more punchy alt-J, "In Cold Blood" is the track for you. With the lead single from "RELAXER," listeners are dazzled with the interweaving vocals and circular instrumentals that are essential to an alt-J single -- turned up a few notches.
In some moments, the album sounds a bit like the score to a Lord of the Rings Film - which honestly, isn't a bad thing. With songs like Adeline, which tells the story of a Tasmanian devil and his unrequited love for a woman and Last Year, which tells a month-by-month tale of heartbreak, the album tends to be cinematic in nature, sonically painting us a luscious story of what's inside the trio's mind.
While it isn't without its flaws, the band ads a mostly successful third instalment to their discography with "RELAXER," simultaneously staying true to themselves and taking risks when necessary. After three years, we are given an album that is atmospheric, blissful and lively all at the same time.
Also check out our live concert with the band: