Reviews

Alt-J
Relaxer

(Infectious)

8/10

Apt that a band named after a keyboard shortcut found themselves headlining festivals so quickly after the release their debut album. Apt, but also unexpected, because alt-J aren’t typically that sort of group. They make slow-burning music, the kind that’s supposed to grow steadily. Yet, there they were prophetically surfing their own (awesome) wave of hype. They were already rocketing before their 2012 Mercury Prize win nudged them into a few more Coldplay fan’s CD collections.

All of which is great, because alt-J are strange, weird and the ‘big rock band’ tag is still ill-fitting. Second LP ‘This Is All Yours’ smuggled singles like ‘Left Hand Free’ and ‘Every Other Freckle’ but was largely expansive, tangential and pastoral.

The mission on ‘Relaxer’ seems to be to trim away any excess fabric. There’s no ‘Intro’, fewer interludes. It’s just eight songs, almost half the length of its predecessor.

It’s not all killer (their cover of ‘House of the Rising Sun’ is of course unessential) but most of it is. ‘In Cold Blood’ and ‘Deadcrush’ are the closest things to a ‘Breezeblocks’ single. Ellie Rowsell’s vocal adds a demonic twist to opener ‘3WW’. ‘Adrenaline’ is a gorgeous ballad.

Most exciting though is ‘Hit Me Like A Snare’, where the trio transform into a vampiric punk band, half The Cramps, half Pixies. ‘Fuck you. I’ll do. What I wanna do,’ they chant. It’s that commitment to self-satisfaction that continues to serve alt-J so well.

Support Loud And Quiet from £3 per month and we'll post you our next 9 magazines

As all of us are constantly reminded, it’s getting harder for independent publishers to stay in business, which applies to Loud And Quiet more now than ever, 14 years after we first started printing a magazine that we’ve always given away for free.

Having thought about the best way to support the costs of what we do (the printing and server fees, the podcast and video production costs etc.) we’d like to ask our readers who really enjoy what we do to subscribe to our next 9 issues over the next 12 months. The cheapest we can afford to do this for is a recurring payment of £3 per month for UK subscribers. If you really start to hate it you can cancel at any time. The same goes for European subscriptions (£6 per month) and the rest of the world (£8 per month).

It’s not just a donation – you’ll receive a physical copy of our magazine through your door, and some extra perks detailed on our subscribe page. Digital subscriptions are available worldwide for £15 per year. We hope you consider this a good deal and the best way to keep Loud And Quiet in your life without its content, independence or existence suffering.