An Awesome Wave
When the British band Alt-J accumulated the songs that would form their first album, An Awesome Wave, they had one single goal. A goal to simply release an album so that they could say they had done so. This album is the result of five years’ worth of songwriting and creativity, and while it slipped through the cracks upon its release in May of 2012 the album has been gaining momentum in popularity.
While the album may have started with humble hopes, just like an awesome wave, the band gained momentum and went on the win the prestigious Mercury Prize given to the top album of the year in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
This recognition is due to the originality that defines the album. While the album sees the band mix a vast range of styles and instruments it never feels forces or over complicated. The songs are based on what can be considered melodious instrumentals and vocals, but these morph together to instill utterly compelling invigoration. The lyrics are almost unintelligible, with the exception of specific lines that produce feelings that are practically antipode to that of which the instruments are intended to express.
Of the band’s many songs on the album it was the song, Fitzpleasure that first gained the attention of American listeners. Many have argued that the song is barely English and is composed of mindless lyrics that have no particular meaning. On the surface this is correct, however, with further examination is proven to be false. The song condenses the entirety of Hubert Selby Jr.’s, 1964 novel, Last Exit of Brooklyn into three minutes and 39 seconds.
For the melodious and sometimes hypnotizing sounds of the entire album, it can be shocking to discover that the lyrics are reflective of violent themes. Violent themes that are a very much so a reality in comparison to the fantasies produced in the songs.
The response that is given to Alt-J will vary. It is easy to see how the album may produce a un- decidedness of whether or not the songs are simply noise that is off putting or as immense pleasure that becomes addictive. Either way, the originality and creativity of the album is irrefutable, and Alt-J’s wave if far more “awesome” when it’s at its most schizophrenic.
I give it 4/5 stars.
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