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CD: Alt-J - This Is All Yours | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Alt-J - This Is All Yours

CD: Alt-J - This Is All Yours

Mercury-winners' second album dazzles conceptually, if not always emotionally

Lots of colour, but what does it all mean?

Art-student rock sounds like a terribly dated concept, but listening to This Is All Yours for the first time, it suddenly feels very relevant. This is music of the broadest cultural horizons, that takes in global influences, but can’t resist the desire to shock, sometimes just for the sake of it.

There are warm, folksy songs like “Warm Foothills”, piano and acoustic guitar and strings dancing around lyrics of touching sensuousness, alongside an eerie, electro-tinged folk hymn, “The Gospel of John Hurt”, about the actor with an alien bursting from his stomach. The touchingly obtuse falsetto dreaminess of “Pusher”, with its relationship question “Are you a pusher or are you a puller?” nestles alongside the only too straightforward images of adolescent erotica in the already slightly infamous “Every Other Freckle”, which desires to "turn you inside out and lick you like a crisp packet". The extremes of student life, from the most earnest erudition to the ickiest of gross-out humour, are here. The sampling of Miley Cyrus on “Hunger of the Pine” is both brilliant - the sounds blend beautifully - and slightly gratuitous. Alt-J know the “how” sometimes better than the “why”.

Highly skilful musically, creatively intriguing, but perhaps emotionally rather tepid, in places, it’s not clear what it all adds up to. Or if, indeed, adding up to something is what matters. For every moment of ostentatious ventriloquism, there’s another two or three of dazzling flair. Back in the embryonic student dorm where the alt-J DNA fused, you might have heard a mumbled line about postmodernism to justify the collage of Japan, with three songs apparently about the once-sacred deer of Nara, together with snack-based seduction and Miley Cyrus. I couldn’t help thinking that with a similar palette of sounds, Wild Beasts keep more heart on show. For conceptual brilliance, alt-J are hard to match. I’ll be passing on the crisps, though.

The extremes of student life, from the most earnest erudition to the ickiest of gross-out humour, are here

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

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