Album Review: This Is All Yours by Alt-J
This Is All Yours
September 22, 2014
Many previous fans of Alt-J will be repulsed by this album. That being said, This Is All Yours is a beautiful rhythmic adventure of sound and melody. Profoundly slower, and less infectious than their counterpart Awesome Wave, this album only works if you let it. Those of us who like to take it slow and appreciate taking time to achieve a perfect harmony will relish in what some may call an unexciting monotony. Bands change and evolve and no sound is bad; all sounds are different and will be appreciated differently because music, like all art, is subjective and can only really be enjoyed if you listen, really listen, and don’t attempt to fit it into a preconceived expectation.
Now that that’s out of the way, I can talk about the album itself. The cover of which is a confusing abstract painting perhaps alluding to the subjective experience I mentioned earlier, knowing that their album would be received with some criticism. Other than that it’s an odd tuning fork for the rest of the album. The only correlation I can draw is that this album, like abstract art, takes time and patience; like a Jackson Pollock, you need to let it work on you. You can’t expect to understand a painting immediately after viewing it, you have to stare at it, then walk away, then stare at it some more, then, eventually, you will feel the painting. You may not be able to put it into words but you will feel it nonetheless; or you won’t, and so it goes with art.
Mirroring their debut album, Alt-J begins This Is All Yours with an epic intro that starts out with powerfully rhythmic vocals which prime the listener for when the song takes off into a vortex of electronic bass and snare. The song resembles a space adventure as it gracefully alternates between pristine vocals and explosive instrumentals. Leaving the intro, you feel like you have already been on a remarkable voyage, yet as the final snare clashes you realize the journey has just begun.
You know this journey has just begun because we are greeted with a second intro that more resembles disembarking than taking off. “Arrival in Nara” slowly helps us down from our space shuttle and introduces us to this peaceful planet full of caressing guitar riffs and enchanting piano melodies. After we are warmly greeted we are introduced to “Nara” that follows at the same pace as the song preceding it, then rapidly increases speed and tempo profoundly distinguishing it and confirming that we have arrived in a world completely new, yet oddly familiar. In this song we are finally able to recognize elements of the old Alt-J. The infectious, unintelligible chorus that seems to converse with the melody; one stopping to allow the other time to make their point when necessary. However, we realize that this is a new sound entirely as it ends with an explosive cacophony that builds throughout the song; thoroughly rocking us to our core then softly retreating as Alt-J loves to do.
The next two songs “Every Other Freckle” and “Left Hand Free” need no embellishment. Unlike the rest of the album, these two songs waste no time in getting your blood pumping. Both have an upbeat tempo and chorus (we can sing along to) that grabs us and shakes us around, makes us tap our foot and dance to and fro. The latter track may do so more than the former (as most radio stations have evaluated) however it is laced with less sexual innuendo, regardless, both songs veer off from the established tempo of the record for a back to back adrenaline rush that leave us far too soon. As our brain is still running on the track “…left hand free!” the floor disappears underneath us when we fall into “Garden of England,” which seems to just poke fun at us with panpipes and forest sounds.
The tempo established at the beginning of the album is reestablished and we slowly make our descent through enchanting landscapes like “Hunger Of The Pine” and “Gospel Of John Hurt” where time seems eternal until we regretfully leave, full of longing and completely disoriented on a spiritual level. These epics are complimented by the heartwarming melodies of “Warm Foothills” and “Pusher” that seem to touch your soul without actually making any sense.
The album ends parallel to Awesome Wave by giving us the long awaited, unanticipated sequel to blood flood and another long, long, but beautiful goodbye.
Recommended if you like: Imagine Dragons, AWOLNATION, Kid Cudi, Radiohead, Foals, Bastille, Tokyo Police Club, Foster the People, MGMT, Of Monsters and Men, Vampire Weekend, or Arcade Fire
Album Highlights: Intro, Every Other Freckle, Left Hand Free, Hunger Of The Pine, The Gospel Of John Hurt, and Pusher
Arrival In Nara
Every Other Freckle
Left Hand Free
Garden Of England
Hunger Of The Pine
The Gospel Of John Hurt
Bloodflood Pt. II