On their full-length debut, the UK's Alt-J bursts out of the gate with a group of songs that are equal parts creative, eccentric, and playful. Art pop for those with sunny dispositions.
It isn't particularly easy to categorize the music of alt-J, a quartet that has origins in Leeds, England. I could apply a phrase like "indie rock," but the band's combination of folk-indebted guitar work, expansive instrumentation, and lead singer Joe Newman's distinctive vocal delivery, makes such a blanket term feel unfair.
Although the standard setup of guitar, bass, drums, and vocals dominate most of their debut album, An Awesome Wave, the group also incorporates occasional use of piano, synthesizer, and strings into a portion of these songs. The band makes some forays into group vocal harmonies as well, which shine on moments like the tail end of the track "Breezeblocks," and even take over completely on the short a cappella "❦ (Ripe & Ruin)." The record's experimentalism is definitely not so prominent that it dominates any given moment, but it also is present enough to keep the album from falling neatly into a sea of generic indie pop/rock releases.
The album just saw its release via Infectious Music, and is available to stream above.