Leeds indie electro outfit, Alt-J have returned with brand new music and after previously garnering incredible success with their previous albums ‘An Awesome Wave’ and ‘This Is All Yours’ both critically and commercially, it’s no small matter that the boys are back and with a new album set to drop, called ‘Relaxer’, on the horizon, I expect all of their fans, of which I include myself, will be excited to see what they have in store.
This wasn’t what I expected.
On the 3rd of March, Alt-J left a cryptic message on their website, captioned ‘00110011 01110111 01110111’ which translated, spells out the title of their first available to stream single from the upcoming album. The track is called ‘3WW’ and it’s certainly a departure from any of their previous single releases. Now, Alt-J have always been known for their unique style, but this is on another level. Mainly featuring an acoustic guitar pick and steady beat throughout the first one minute and forty seconds of the almost five minute track before we reach any vocals, and of course it’s that soft and dreamy tone we associate them with. However, they appear to have shared vocal duties on this one as they perform harmonies, separate sections, feature a female vocal and head for a beautiful chorus over which a minimalist piano part has been layered. It’s a truly beautiful song, but I guess the shock is that after enjoying commercial success in the past, I find it hard to believe that this track is at all radio friendly and the pop machine, Radio 1, will struggle to find a place for it on any of their day time shows, like before. An element that adds to the obscure and some what psychedelic nature of the track is the strange video they’ve added to the audio, which can also be seen on the album cover, that seems to be a deep web version of Goldeneye for N64. It’s unnerving and eerie and it feels necessary to separate off the track from the visuals as the gentle and blissful track becomes something else entirely once partnered with the imagery.
Now, I don’t mean any of this to sound negative at all, It’s just a little bit of a shock that they haven’t pushed further towards the more palatable sound offered in part by their second album. I expect no Miley Cyrus samples here, or indie rock bangers like ‘Left Hand Free’ for that matter, but I think I like that. They appear to have gone back to the drawing board and carried on as they began on their debut, perhaps before being thrown off by a little fame and notoriety. It could also be that this is simply an intro to the album and not to be taken as a symbol of what the album represents. We’ll have to wait until June to find out… Until then, see for yourself.
Words by Stuart Green (@Mojo20_music)