This year’s Mercury Prize winners enter into the gray land of love ’em or hate ’em. Some absolutely love Joe Newman’s warbly voice and the spastic beats others…not as impressed. Me, I’m on the fence. I definitely enjoyed a few songs on the band’s debut, An Awesome Wave but grew weary of the entire package…
An Awesome Wave
The debut album that is quickly building a fan base for this UK quartet, #An Awesome Wave# is a quirky, genre blending album that pulls the majority of its inspiration from world music. The merging of Gus Unger-Hamilton’s keyboards, Gwil Sainsbury’s driving bass, Thom Green’s sporadic drums and Joe Newman’s vexing vocals proves at times well orchestrated and at times ostentatious in their attempt to create an atypical record.
Once #An Awesome Wave# makes its way to the track it maintains a steady jog and never quite sprints into action. Songs like “Estocada” on the US release, otherwise known as “Something Good,” “Tessellate,” “Taro,” and “Breezeblocks” all magically balance the disjointed, hypnotic beats the band creates with Newman’s flat vocals. Yet, outside these notable numbers, the equation grows wearisome and old, leaving some desiring certain parts of a song; wishing the band didn’t include the an a cappella intro on “Fitzpleasure” or quickened the pace of “Ms” as the slow tempo and inflectionless vocals grew predictable.
Nevertheless a creative effort from this new band, Alt-J shows promise and proves they can create hauntingly catchy melodies from irregular rhythms.
DOWNLOAD: “Tessellate,” “Estocada (Something Good)” APRIL S. ENGRAM