2017, Music

RELAXER (2017) by alt-J

For some reason a number of these 2017 albums I’ve been recommended are the respective fanbase’s least favourite. This is one such album.

I kinda like the “House of the Rising Sun” cover. I can say I haven’t heard a version like this, it’s sort of wistful.

I see a lot of fans saying the album is boring and I’m not sure what they’re talking about. Perhaps previous albums were a little wilder? I didn’t find the album boring at all; rather I found it kind of schizophrenic. This is one of those bands where I can’t always tell it’s the same band from track to track. Sometimes that’s a good thing but often it’s not. Here’s it’s definitely a mixed bag.

Sometimes the differing instrumental palette works for me. Like on “In Cold Blood” where they bring in some horns. I am a sucker for horns and they are underused, especially when it’s so easy to use a sample or a keyboard instead.

But other times I’m not so sure, sometimes I find it confusing, as how they switch from songs based around acoustic guitar to songs based around samples. I get that’s the world we’re in now but I need some coherence. I prefer when they do it in the same song, at least.

Another thing: I generally hate it when people complain about a singer’s voice. Everyone sounds distinct and a distinct voice is often very helpful for an artist or band to stand out. But one of these singers (if there are two lead vocalists) often rubs me the wrong way. It’s mostly on the upbeat songs but I do not like that voice. I’m a hypocrite, as I listen to plenty of singers whom other people can’t stand, but this guy (or one of these guys) I don’t particular like, and that doesn’t help with how I feel about the album.

But I don’t mind the music here. I can definitely sit back and listen to it. I just find it a little scattershot, a little incoherent. It definitely feels like different bands on different tracks and I would appreciate it more if it didn’t.


PS At their very softest, they remind me of a way less noisy Flying Saucer Attack but I haven’t listened to that band in well over a decade so I’m probably off.

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