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Album Review: Alt-J – This is All Yours

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Following the commercial success and melodic genius of Alt-J’s first album, An Awesome Wave, the anticipation for follow-up This is All Yours was high. It’s always easy to nitpick the latest work from a band that has unexpectedly risen to the top of the popular music scene, but when it comes down to it, Alt-J’s sophomore effort is another success for the experimental indie rock quartet.

Leadoff track “Intro” is a perfect opening for the 13 songs that follow, showcasing an eclectic range of musicality coupled with incoherent words building up for several minutes until we hear actual language being spoken. During this prelude, Alt-J sets a strong tone for the album through its ability to compile layers of varied beats, nonsensical lyrics, lingering falsettos, harmonies, acoustics, and whistling solos into a single audibly pleasing mosaic.

Alt-J’s success at molding together such a wide variety of sounds is displayed again on the track “Hunger of the Pine,” which samples and repeats the line “I’m a female rebel” from Miley Cyrus’ “4×4.” That one lyric beautifully complements the intensity that builds throughout the song. Another track to look out for is “Bloodflood II,” which, like “Hunger of the Pine,” uses a buildup technique that leads the song into a final flourish of percussion, synthesizers, and steady vocals before bowing out with a calming piano passage.

This is All Yours is an album of dazzling, seductive mysteries that fall right in line with the dense layers of musical enigmas that Alt-J has concocted. You will encounter combinations and lyrics that you won’t understand; yet somehow, the deliberate matching of varied sonic elements will hook you in, tingle your musical veins and—although you can’t always quite pinpoint how—leave you strangely satisfied.

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