If you're looking to place Alt-J into some kind of music category, think again. There seems to have been a never-ending and relatively pointless discussion on the potential of fitting them into this or that genre, with some strange cross breeds such as 'trip-folk' and 'folk-step' crawling out of the woodwork. But why bother with all of that. Both unnecessary for talking about the album in question, and in the grander scheme of just enjoying the music they've whipped up for us, Alt-J have come out with a cracking debut album in the form of An Awesome Wave.
The Leeds-born quartet have most certainly been making waves of their own throughout the music industry, with authority-on-everything-cool NME labelling them 'smouldering' masters of their own genre, whatever that may end up being. Getting down to the tracks in question involves diving into a whirlwind of instruments, a cappella, haunting intros and complex lyrics of geometric proportions - to give you some idea of the nerdiness these guys have achieved, their name is actually the short cut for making the triangle sign on a mac...need we say more?
There's certainly no denying that what Alt-J have created here is fresh, innovative and completely spell-binding. The opposing sounds of the harmony-filled (Ripe and Ruin), to the laconic Tessellate, to the poppy and instantly likeable Dissolve Me, ebb in and out with timely instrumentals until you eventually wash up on the shores of the final track Taro, a slightly feeble ending to an otherwise very well thought-out album.
If comparisons were to be drawn, they would encompass just about everything from Simon and Garkfunkel, to Patrick Wolf, to Mumford and Sons and back again. The throbbing beat and weird yet wonderful vocals of Fitzpleasure has got to be a highlight, with the single Matilda and tracks such as Ms paling in comparison. Even in the weaker moments though, this album is far from falling apart and really does attest to its metaphorical name.
Easy to listen to in just about any mood, An Awesome Wave has a little something for everyone. To call them masters of their own genre may be taking it a step too far, there's certainly room for improvement and growth, but that's surely what makes this band even more exciting for the future. Watch this space.
Image copyright HMV
Average price: £8.00