British indie-rock band alt-J returns with an intriguing, if flawed third studio album, ‘Relaxer.’ The band’s eclecticism knows no end on ‘Relaxer.’
Alt-J – a Mac command for a triangle (∆) as well as a critically acclaimed, British indie-rock band. Alt-J the band returns with its third studio album, Relaxer. While Relaxer has its share of relaxed moments, stylistically, there’s little relaxing about its overabundance of ideas.
“3WW,” which stands for three worn words, kicks off Relaxer splendidly. Folksy and pleasant, it sets the tone. The lyrics are poetic, with great vocal performances from Gus Unger-Hamilton and Joe Newman, as well as guest, Ellie Rowsell. “3WW” encompasses temporary love and sex.
“In Cold Blood” accelerates the tempo, contrasting the folksy, indie balladry of the opener. The sounds are sharper, grittier, and more robust. This fun, deadly record centers around “Pool, summer, summer, pool, pool summer / Kiss me.” Clever wordplay makes it a surefire gem.
“Hit Me Like that Snare”
“House of the Rising Sun” is a quasi-cover of The Animals’ classic, but reinvented. Ultimately, the Alt-J take doesn’t supplant the original. They deserve credit, however, for the concept of “Hit Me Like that Snare.” Filled with energy and swagger, sex is written all over it.
The biggest flaw is that the record is goes overboard – it’s oversexed. The contemporary sound of “Deadcrush” incorporates hip-hop sensibilities – alternatively of course. Literally, it’s about the band’s dead crushes: photographer Lee Miller and, Queen Anne Boleyn.
“Adeline” returns to the folksy quality of “3WW.” Ultimately, it’s beautiful and successful. Clever, the song is about a Tasmanian devil who falls in love with a woman. Follow-up “Last Year” is also radiant, but lacks the excitement and thrills of “Adeline.” Sad, it depicts the last year of life, as well as the song performed at the funeral (sung by Marika Hackman). The ending of closer Pleader” reaches the desired arrival point, but the beginning of the song takes a bit too long to develop.
All in all, there are plenty of great musical moments throughout the course of Relaxer. It’s imperfect – Alt-J are restless, which is a blessing and a curse. The eclecticism is a pro more often than not, but the innovative British darlings overindulge.
If you’d like to check out the full-fledged analysis of the album, check out alt-J, Relaxer | Album Review on The Musical Hype.
Gems: “3WW,” “In Cold Blood” & “Adeline”