Alt-J’s first two albums cemented their reputation as being one of the freshest sounding UK groups of the decade, producing solid hits such as ‘Breezeblocks’ and ‘Left Hand Free’. Their third album, Relaxer, retains their signature sound but lacks the direction of their previous offerings.
Opening single ‘3WW’ is a fantastically moody track which takes its time in reaching a catchy crescendo. It seems to be a mission-statement for the whole album, being honed, precise and confident. You would think that an album with only eight tracks would possess this same kind of precision throughout. Unfortunately, though many of the tracks are a great listen, the whole album feels incoherent with none of them being as satisfying as its opener. The most out of place song on the album, ‘Hit Me Like That Snare’, is a punky number which shows the band attempting to go in a new direction but not quite succeeding in doing so. The song’s final refrain, ‘F**k you, I’ll do what I wanna do’ seems to indicate that the band are aware that the song breaks from their unique sound, something which has earned them their success. However, the track’s simplistic riff and Joe Newman’s drawling delivery contrasts uncomfortably with the polished quality of Relaxer’s other tracks.
The sexy ‘Deadcrush’ returns the album to the mood set by ‘3WW’ with the band continuing their tradition of using the Yamaha keyboard DJ function; they use the keyboard’s ‘yeeeeaaah’ sound bite this time. This track’s hook will implant itself in your head immediately and it would do well as a single. The album’s final three tracks jostle for your attention, each one trying to outdo the last in terms scale. The longest songs on the album, they all feel like they could appropriately close Relaxer. Moreover, it’s a shame that your patience will be lost by the time you hear ‘Last Year’, a laborious song of two halves, consisting of only guitar, vocals and oboe. The albums true closer, ‘Pleader’, begins with promisingly jaunty strings but ends with a choir which try but fail to lift the album to an epic finale. The ‘ya ya ya’ sounds on ‘Adeline’ would have done a much better job. So, though alt-J’s newest LP is incoherent it is made up of brilliant moments but also some not so brilliant ones.
Catch RELAXER today!!!!! http://altjband.com/relaxer/