alt-J – This Is All Yours [Finely Tuned]
alt-J are an English rock band hailing from the city of Leeds, who started their musical journey in the year 2007, at the Leeds University. Following the departure of guitarist and bassist, Gwil Sainsbury in mid-2014, alt-J came out with their second album, This Is All Yours, in September of the same year. Their debut album, An Awesome Wave attained rapid acclaim, with songs that were entrancing and had a feel in the realms of folk, borderline tribal, and indie pop/experimental rock, all at the same time. Despite the band having received acute criticism for following in the footsteps of Coldplay and Muse, this album went on to win the Best Alternative Music Album at the 57th Grammy Awards in 2015, pleasantly surprising their loyal fan base. This album has the peculiar yet distinguishing earmark of a well-conceived anecdote within each song. After all, these are the amusing musicians who gained inspiration for the name of their band from Mac keyboard shortcut (Alt+J) which contours the elemental frame of a triangle.
Arrival In Nara/ Nara/ Leaving Nara is a three-song cycle set in an ancient period in Nara, a city in Japan, known for its mythological white deer. It narrates the tale of a man who wishes to embody this animal and be with the one he loves, as Newman sings “Love, love is the warmest colour”. Hunger of the Pine follows alt-J’s cut-and-dried pattern of hauntingly honest lyrics, and also features the eccentric Miley Cyrus echoing the words “I’m a Female Rebel”. The Gospel of John Hurt is an account of the impaled John Hurt from the science fiction horror, Alien. In one of their most contemplative numbers yet (Pusher), alt-J reels out the rhetoric “Are you a pusher or a puller?” sending one to a transfixed state of deep thought with the constant hum of the euphonic guitar. Several songs in the album have paved their way to multifarious silver screens, including Left Hand Free, the catchy blues-rock background score for the final credits of the Marvel blockbuster Captain America: Civil War’. The song has gained attention for being the ‘least alt-J song ever’, with its clichéd drum solos and unapologetically mainstream lyrics, and the band admits they spent no more than 20 minutes writing the one-hit wonder.
The general trend followed in this album is that of sublime tranquillity notwithstanding every song pursuing a verbose and dismal tone. Despite this, alt-J never fails to associate each libretto of theirs to riveting sagas. The slur in Newman’s vocals and the subtly delivered spark of electricity to their songs makes alt-J’s albums one of the select few that possess a quality of being both soothing and spirited at the same time.