All of us Alt-J super freaks, who have fallen in love with those groundbreaking weirdos, have been faithfully counting down the milliseconds until their second album This is all Yours finally dropped. Well, you can stop your clocks fellow Alt-Nerds! It's here! (Remember: Ctrl-T opens visualizer on iTunes, your'e gonna need it for this one).
As a fan you cant help but worry: Is the record company going to corrupt my beloved little indie freak show? How are they ever going to top An Awesome Wave? Alt-Js second album, This is All Yours is a success because it does not try to compete with An Awesome Wave. Instead of trying to outdo the genius of their debut album, they built on it by expanding and experimenting with the elements that worked. They still take folk rock, eclectic percussion, monastic choral music, electronic alteration, and Joe Newman's haunting vocals and blend them into something so unique it that can only be identified as Δ.
Just like An Awesome Wave, This is all Yours starts off with an "intro." Composed of a choir, with a similar eeriness to the Beach Boys in, "Heroes and Villains", they usher us into Nara, a highly spiritual city in Japan known for its wild deer. In "Arrival in Nara" and "Nara" both the organic and religious qualities of the region can be heard, respectively.
Once the setting has been established, Alt-J is free to wander their creative landscape. Perhaps briefly stifled in, "Left Hand Free," Alt-J immediately beams us back onto their spaceship with, "Garden of England," but it wouldn't be an Alt-J album if there weren't one or two love songs...creepy, creepy love songs. One such track is their most recent single,"Every Other Freckle." It maintains that all consuming (literally?) love thing that Alt-J enjoys so much. The contrast between lyrics like, "I'm gonna kiss you, like the sun browns you" followed immediately by a chant of "Devour me" is a nod at their scary humor, also present in "Breezeblocks." Can Alt-J love without digestion? We'll have to wait till their third album to find out.
Musically, songs on This is All Yours closely resemble tracks from the previous album. The beginning of "Warm Foothills" is very similar to "(Interlude 3)", but then it opens into something totally different. Newman's vocals and a female voice rapidly shift between individual phrases, words, or even syllables, then blend in unison or harmony over top a whimsically folky guitar tune, complete with whistling.
For those of you that were concerned, This Is All Yours does not disappoint. If you love Alt-J, you'll most likely love this album, but it does leave somethings to be desired after the mind-blowing masterpiece of An Awesome Wave. With this album, Alt-J aimed forward, developing and progressing their style, rather than aiming up and trying to exceed expectations. While probably the correct move for their sophomore album, there are only a handful of tracks that stand out as individuals. Otherwise,This is All Yours has to be listened to in its entirety to truly be appreciated for the great piece of music that it is. Overall, this is an awesome intermediate piece, and we can anticipate much more out of Alt-Js next project.
This is All Yours is out now on Atlantic Records