Showing posts with label alt-j. Show all posts
Showing posts with label alt-j. Show all posts

Monday, June 5, 2017

video review: 'relaxer' by alt-J

Hey, this was a request, so to some extent you all were asking for this (well, probably not for this review specifically, but I had to set my cards straight, and it'll be fascinating how many subs I lose in the end here).

Anyway, not the only review dropping tonight - Bleachers coming up next, stay tuned!

album review: 'relaxer' by alt-j

Oh, I'm not going to make any fans with this review. Mostly because there is very much a reason I've avoided talking about alt-j, a breakthrough UK indie pop group that I've found a fair bit more frustrating than actually likable, not helped by comparisons to Radiohead I never thought we deserved.

See, I've listened to An Awesome Wave and This Is All Yours, and to some extent I see the appeal - they can take some obtuse methods of hitting melody, they have a liquid approach to guitar grooves that I'd normally like, they have a frontman with a distinct voice and writing that on the surface seems somewhat approachable, they dabble in other subgenres adjacent to rock... yeah, note the word 'dabble', because every listen to alt-J gives me the impression there is nothing all that striking or compelling beneath all the 'weird' indie pop pivots. The biggest consistent criticism with their first two records are that they're overstuffed messes, but that can be redeemed if they add up to something with an edge or something to say, whereas every listen I've given to alt-j just finds it all the more hollow to me. I can tolerate weirdness for its own sake, but frankly, this doesn't feel alien or imposing or challenging, just obtuse and sterile and sexless, the music marketers think the lowest common denominator of hipsters like. Sure, there are a few pretty vocal harmonies, especially on This Is All Yours, but that doesn't disguise the fact the records are dreary slogs that think they are a lot more interesting than they actually are. And it's not helped by the fact that I find Joe Newman a particularly unengaging and unlikable frontman, especially when you dig into the lyrics - it's one of the reasons I've never found the Radiohead comparison made any sense, because even though I'm not really a fan, Yorke's writing and intensity was far more compelling than this, and he certainly aims higher.

But hey, you guys wanted me to talk about Relaxer thanks to Patreon, so maybe three records in alt-j will have found something workable?