alt-J : An Awesome Wave : album review

alt-J – An Awesome Wave (Infectious)
Available 5 June 2012

alt-J explode onto the scene with a cascading and creatively ambitious debut which refuses to be constrained into any existing genre. 

Four friends from University start a band, release an album, subsequently gain success and tour the world. If that sounds slightly cliché and familiar, then fear not because that’s where the unoriginality ends as alt-J‘s debut album, An Awesome Wave is a revelation.

Personally I always enjoy it when I’m listening to a new album and I start having some kind of fear-induced panic as my brain tries to place this new band into a genre of music that is already around and I can’t. I’m making this sound like a more regular occurrence than it is in honesty.

After repeated listens my brain still couldn’t decide. Fortunately however, the band themselves have coined their style of music as “Trip Folk” (a combination of Trip Hop and Folk) recently in an interview so I could stop fretting.

In fact, Trip Folk makes perfect sense once you consider the delicate guitar tones alternating between electric guitar riffs, pianos, dubstep sounds more appropriate on a Benga song, with raspy folk vocals and the use of samples, all in the first song, titled, Intro.

alt-J combine highbrow lyrics of infatuation towards triangles and melodies that would make a Fleet Foxes fan weep with joy. The results are some beautifully intricate sounds which will appeal to a variety of generations.

Tessellate, Breezeblocks, Something Good and Fitzpleasure are all masterpieces in the mould of ultimate “grower” band Radiohead. This though would be doing the four piece from Cambridgeshire a disservice in that these songs are more instantly agreeable than some of Radiohead’s- a fact noted as much by the band’s recent air time on Radio 1, as part of Fearne Cotton’s ”Ëœfavourite thing’ for the song Matilda, in homage to Natalie Portman’s character in the film Leon.

It is likely that the more you bombard your aural senses with this album, the more you will wish for bands in a similar ”ËœTrip Folk’ vein to appear on your music player of choice. Supposing that sentence prophesies true in six months or so, then it would probably be due to alt-J.

All words by Jeremy Burnel. 

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Jeremy likes long walks on sandy beaches and a good historical fiction novel. Graduated in French & Business, and was drummer in Norwich Alternative pop band Console Wars. Has since dabbled in advertising and now alternates between Marketing Consulting and writing about great music.


  1. It’s a very nice, super chilled-out album to vibe to, but I would hesitate to use the word “masterpiece” for any of these. I mean, a masterpiece is like…the five best songs of the year. Songs that endure for decades. Ones that set your head spinning with their genius and beauty. I love alt-J, but this album might be a little overhyped.


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