Joe Newman and his Alt-J cohorts are probably sick of hearing that their band’s sound is too sterile. But here on the eight-song Relaxer
, the UK indie-electronica ensemble changes things up, adding female vocals that evoke the folkie feel of Fairport Convention and provide an odd counterpoint to the band’s precisely layered trademark sound. Alt-J also scores points for a somber and odd cover of the traditional classic “House of the Rising Sun.” And while their attempt to get down and dirty on “Hit Me Like That Snare” does sound a bit forced, acoustic-tinged tracks like “3WW” and “Last Year” combine beautiful melodies with lyrics that are downright weird. Much like Leeds, the British college town that Alt-J calls home, the group is no stranger to self-absorbed intellectualism, yet always remains unique.
File next to:
Glass Animals, Arcade Fire, Portugal the Man