You guys, I’m confused, and I need your help. Is Alt-J a good band or not?
In case you don’t know them, they are a British indie band that has been getting “the right kind of attention.” By that, I mean their debut album An Awesome Wave won the Mercury Prize, which is a very cool U.K. music award that tends to find the hottest acts about a year before they blow up. They’re about to launch a small American tour, their album is selling pretty well in England, and perhaps most importantly, they are very hard to classify. Do they make rock? Electronic music? Folk? The answer to all three questions is “kind of,” which tells me they’re doing something interesting.
But again… is it good? I honestly don’t know.
Well, okay. “Good” is a subjective term, and it’s impossible to definitively say whether any band is good or not. What I really mean is, “Do I like Alt-J’s music?” Right now, I’m curious about it, but it hasn’t quite captured my heart. The music doesn’t sound like what I’m used to hearing—it resists familiar chord structures and poppy hooks—so it may take me a while to really grasp what’s going on.
In the meantime, I’m coming to you. What are your thoughts? Do you like this music? If so, tell me why. I want to “learn how to listen,” if you will. And if you don’t like it, I’d also like to know why. (But “this sucks” isn’t really a helpful answer. Give me details.)
Here are some key Alt-J songs to help us make up our minds:
(1) “Breezeblocks” — This is probably their catchiest song, blending low-fi rock with a snazzy drum loop. There’s also this moaning in the chorus that I like, as well as some agreeably weird inflections in the vocals throughout. Right now, this one is coming closest to convincing me I like the band.
(2) “Tessellate” — This one leans a little heavier on the electro pedal than some of their other songs, but is it a meandering, formless mess?
(3) “Something Good” — Is this one weird and beautiful, or is it a good idea that’s just a little too laconic to be interesting?
Mark Blankenship is interested to see how his relationship with Alt-J plays out. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship