Three for three. Not many bands out there can attest to producing three equally impressive albums back-to-back-to-back – but alt-J most certainly can. The English outfit is continuing with its pattern of success with their latest compilation of strange and wonderful tracks: RELAXER.
By this point, we know exactly what to expect from alt-J, and yet they still find a way to surprise and impress. RELAXER may be the third album in their discography, but the work appears to fit somewhere in between An Awesome Wave and This Is All Yours. Blending the repetitive vocalizations of the debut album with the soft, often ethereal and dream-like interludes of the second, alt-J have whipped up something that can only be seen as a further refinement of an already distinctive sound.
It’s fitting, then, that the band’s name is ∆, also known as “delta” and used as the mathematic symbol for change – with alt-J only being the computer command for receiving the symbol. The now-trio have proven beyond a doubt that they have every intent to continue pushing their distinctive sound to the top of the charts.
With tracks like In Cold Blood, Deadcrush, and 3WW echoing the alt-J of yore, tracks like Hit Me Like That Snare and House of the Rising Sun stand as delectable treats sandwiched in the middle of the album – waiting like a pleasant holiday surprise.
Hit Me Like That Snare stands dramatically apart from the rest of the discography, echoing auditory sentiments along the likes of the Sex Pistols and Garage Punk Rock more than the meticulously produced tracks we’ve come to know and love from them. Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that the track bears lyrics such as “f*ck you I’ll do what I wanna do”.
House of the Rising Sun, on the other hand, will go down as one of the most incredible covers of an already legendary song. Leave it to alt-J to take a classic and make it their own. With success rolling in album after album, the question of “what’s next” is too tantalizing to disregard.
We can honestly say that we don’t ever see ourselves getting sick of their distinctive sound, but like the change that delta represents, it is inevitable that the band’s sound will naturally change and evolve over time. The only thing that we can hold out hope for is that the change that comes adds rather than takes away.
Perhaps the three strokes of luck is directly tied in with the band affluence for all things triangular, but we admit that would be attempting to scry the bones a little too hard.
Finishing their third tour around the studio with Pleader, the group gives a wonderful parting gift of classical strings mixed with acapella-like vocal alternation that give way to somber guitar solos – only to be punctuated by plucky string sections underlaid by grimy bass lines.
A fitting end to the third chapter of a tale we hope never ends.