The first time I listened to Alt-J (my first song: “Fitzpleasure”) was when I found out they won the Mercury Prize back in 2013. Now mind you, this is the same time Jessie Ware’s Devotion was nominated — and if you didn’t know, I love Devotion more than many, many other things in the world. So I was curious: how did the band that the Mercury panel think is better than Jessie Ware actually sound? It was not pleasant and I was full of disagreement to leave this nicely.
But I’m only one person out of the millions in this world, and a lot out of that million seems to quite enjoy Alt-J. That same year Alt-J won the Mercury, a friend came back from London obsessed with An Awesome Wave. “They’re amazing!” she said. And it was totally the type of music she would be into: a psychedelic hybrid of swirling sounds pulled from electronic noise, crooked folk, and vocal harmonies. And a lot more people seem to praise their tendency to twist and turn different styles into this wandering pop song. I guess they’re… weird? But actually sounds fun and likeable?
I’m listening to An Awesome Wave for the first time right now, and I don’t hear much of the music as I do the feedback I’ve heard in the past few years about the band. The music is OK, I guess. But I don’t know what’s innovative about this band besides the fact they try literally everything in one-go, which isn’t that impressive when you’re not doing anything after you threw the stuff on the canvas. Alt-J probably never explicitly intended to go out and innovate music — no one really does with music, and that’s OK — but people I hear singing praise about this band swear like they are. I wish I can just shut my thoughts and not mind everyone else’s exaggeration so I’m not coming out of this so bitter. But I just can’t.