It’d be easy to assume alt-J’s continued success would make them tread a straighter line. In reality, their development’s seen them head down weirder, more abstract paths. ‘Intro’, the opening track to second album ‘This Is All Yours’, was a bustling, anxiety-fuelled trip down the streets of Japanese city Nara.
‘3WW’, which opens third record ‘Relaxer’, meanwhile, feels like it’s set a hundred years back around a campfire in rural Britain. The three voices deployed in the track paint completely different worlds, each blending into the others like smoke.
Gus Unger-Hamilton’s opening vocal is pure traditional British folk, which is hurtled forward into a silky, smooth future by Joe Newman’s more familiar tones and the introduction of slapping percussion. By the time Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell slides in, ‘3WW’ has become a creeping snake, slithering up England’s east coastline.
Through this three-legged monster, alt-J have managed to present an all-encompassing return, defying expectation at every turn. Bravo.