Since riding An Awesome Wave all the way to mainstream success and a mercury award to boot, Alt-J have become synonymous with triangle tattooed hipsters across the realm. Despite their demographic their debut easily ranked amongst the top albums of the decade so far. Having achieved so much in just two years, their follow up, This Is All Yours, is all the more vital in ensuring their own longevity, especially considering they’ve lost their bassist along with way.
There is a close knit relationship between this record and the last. Opening with another modestly titled, ‘Intro’, which not only surpasses its ancestor, but as a mere introduction shits on just about every other song released this year. Nothing other than a one word symphony. After which we are welcomed into the world of ‘Nara’. Judging by the lyrics of ‘Arrival in…’ it seems you have to drown to get there. It’s with this Narnia like entry – yes there is a reference to Aslan – that we are ushered into full confirmation of Alt-J as a folk band, but for the 2010’s. Third track, ‘Nara’ continues the already high standard, in magnificently dynamic fashion, with a riff not too far removed from Blur’s ‘Tender’. If you thought ‘Hallelujah’ had be abused to within an inch of its lyrical life, think again. Delicately juxtaposed to what will certainly become the immortal lines, “love is a pharaoh and he’s boning me’.
You immediately notice the production has been stepped up a notch, gone are the casio keyboard effects, and in their place are nodes of dystopian brass and Miley Cyrus samples, in ‘Hunger of the Pine’. Most recent single, ‘Every Other Freckle’, featuring the best Tudor breakdown we’ve heard this year, displays masterful lyricism, playing on the sexual metaphors we grew to love in Tessellate.
Aside from the naturalistic motifs, the plan to conquer America is obvious here. ‘Left Hand Free’ choreographed perfectly to appeal across the Atlantic, but be passed off as a ironic statement on US gun culture here at home. However, almost as an antidote to that, Alt-J present some of their more barmy lyrics in ‘The Gospel of John Hurt’, and “Rule Britannia,” Joe Newman mournfully recites on ‘Choice Kingdom’, having followed from the surprising ‘Garden of England’ interlude, a myriad of flutes and pipes playing on Vivalidi’s Spring. Now if ‘Warm Foothills’ had been written by any other band it would be a standard acoustic affair, but the vocals are expertly spliced between two separate pitches, as jarring as that sounds, its anything but, and you can just imagine this on a festival stage, whistling and all.
‘Bloodflood Pt. II’ takes lyrics straight out of ‘Fitzpleasure’ and the original, reapplying them in a new brooding, stadium filling soundscape, more like an Arcade Fire song then anything we’ve experienced before. It’s a visceral nod to their past, that climaxes the album before ‘Leaving Nara,’ pushes us back out of the forest, through the wardrobe and back into reality.
If Alt-J had released this record first, they would not have achieved anywhere near the same success, but by no means does this mean This Is All Yours is poor. The opposite. By weaning us slowly into what can only be described now as their folkish world, with their post-dub antics on their debut, they’ve granted themselves the freedom to do whatever the fuck they want and know that we will take the time to appreciate the subtle nuances in their music, and grow addicted to them once again.
With This Is All Yours the trio have quietly and perfectly pushed themselves into a position held by very few bands. There is a very serious possibility they could join the likes of Mumford & Sons and Arctic Monkeys in headlining Glastonbury after just two, irresistible albums.