The British alternative rock band Alt-J practically stumbled into fame. Despite the early 2012 release of An Awesome Wave, the group did not gain a following until they were featured in an array of music festivals throughout 2013. Slowly but surely, while playing festivals like Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, Alt-J acquired a loyal fan base that eventually pushed forward tracks like “Breezeblocks” to the surface. While their debut album got off to a slow start, the band’s sophomore release, This is All Yours immediately sparked success. Debuting at number one in the United Kingdom, their September 2014 release gave the band a lot of unexpected attention. While This is All Yours has a more well-rounded and polished track list, it fails to deliver the unique complexity the group’s first album achieved.
The opening, simply titled “Intro” steers the album in the correct direction. The eerie falsetto of Joe Newman along with a simple guitar exemplifies the distinct sound the band conceptualized in An Awesome Wave. While this album is definitely one that should be listened to from start to finish, in order, there are a few tracks that stand out on their own. “Every Other Freckle” is the band at its strongest. The industrial laying and lyrical imagery give the song a one-of-a-kind sound while still giving people something with which to sing along. Other highlights from the album include the almost laughable but effective sampling of Miley Cyrus in “Hunger of the Pine.” Its contrast between Cyrus’ jarring vocals and Newman’s soft verses gives the song the usual Alt-J layered dynamic fans love.
The last few notable tracks from This is All Yours stand out for different reasons. “Left Hand Free,” without a doubt, is one of the most enjoyable songs on the album, yet it sounds more like homage to The Pixies-era alternative rock rather than the complex sound of Alt-J. Other tracks in the middle of the album such as “Warm Foothills” and “The Gospel of John Hurt” feel misplaced and oftentimes just silly. “Warm Foothills” seems more like an indie folk track rather than industrial grit. Listening to this track, the signature Alt-J sound we all have grown to love is completely abandoned.
While parts of the album stay true to the distinct and great sound An Awesome Wave established, other parts felt out of place. Their sophomore album will more likely establish them as artists, but also lose a part of them that their early fans adored. The album gave more variety, but it lacked fluidity and conceptualization. Not surprisingly, the band’s first album took five years to produce while their second was made in under a year. Still, This is All Yours is a fun, dynamic album that everyone should listen to at least once.