Following Alt-J’s 2012’s Mercury Prize winning debut An Awesome Wave, the standards could not have been set higher for the bands follow up. An Awesome Wave really was “an awesome wave” (sorry, had to include that somehow), an album from a band that hadn’t any prior acclaim, the album went on to sell over 1 million copies worldwide. Following the bands success, band founder and bass player Gwil Sainsbury departed the band leaving many to ponder where the band would go from there. Five months later the band would announce the follow up to their successful debut in the form of This Is All Yours. Not long after the band would release the first single off the album. Sampled from a Miley Cyrus song, Hunger of the Pine gave Alt-J fans what they wanted. A familiar tune, with new elements. The band made a wonderful return, but would the album live up to the extremely high expectations hatched by nearly all the bands followers?
Well you could say the immediate answer was no, based on the next single. Left Hand Free was a very difficult tune to adapt to for me. A typically electronic, soft sound turned into a hard almost rock and roll sound. It has since been suggested the track was one that was pushed by the record company, as they did not believe Hunger of the Pine would be successful. In my opinion the quality of the album was in jeopardy, we had seen one phenomenal track that built off the traditional Alt-J sound, and on the other hand you had a track that completely squandered that. The third track released from the album was back on track, Every Other Freckle carries itself very much like An Awesome Wave’s Fitzpleasure. A subtle beginning, then a quick, catchy uptake.
At the time of this review, these are only the three tracks I had heard from This Is All Yours. I thought, “could be worse, two great tracks, one not so much.” Maybe not the best attitude, but as a fan of the band I was satisfied. As the day rolled in (a Monday unfortunately) I open my email to find a copy of the album. I quickly open it and begin my first play-through. One of my major complaints from An Awesome Wave was its unnecessary reliance of interludes, of the 14 track album there are three and an intro. I was very pleased to see that there were no interludes, and the intro is more of an actual song than what you would find on An Awesome Wave. I would be willing to say This Is All Yours has the best intro since The xx‘s intro on their debut. Starting with a hypnotic pitter-patter of Newman’s “la la” the intro flies along and clocks in at a massive four-and-a-half minutes. This Is All Yours makes a flying start, whilst keeping the bands roots in tact and building on them at the same time. The album overall feels like the band have found the direction they want, and have gotten a strong hold on it. Although An Awesome Wave had a fairly unifying feel, there were a few songs that felt slightly out of place. With the exception of one track, This Is All Yours doesn’t have the same trouble.
The million dollar question remains, is This is all Yours better than An Awesome Wave? In short, yes. This is all Yours reaches an overall level that I believe is one higher than their debut. With this in mind I believe An Awesome Wave produced more hits, with such tracks as Tessellate, Breezeblocks, and Fitzpleasure. This is all Yours certainly has some outstanding tracks on it, I just don’t believe they will individually reach the same heights some of the tracks on the albums predecessor did.
This Is All Yours will be released on September 19th via Infectious Music.