If you need something to chill back to while still keeping a bit of energy up, alt-J is always the solution. Their music comes with the traditional indie goodness, but there's always a certain moodiness to it that keeps reality in check. alt-J keeps the groove alive in Relaxer, the band's third album.
The album opens mysteriously, the quickly captivating intro guitar melodies of '3WW' introducing the record, a deep bass resonating below as the percussion quietly follows. Joe Newman enters the track with vocals with an almost monk-chant-like melody. The song gains a more paradisiaical sound with brighter and sweeter guitars and melodies. Interesting melodies also play a key role in 'Deadcrush,' Ellie Rowsell of Wolf Alice providing additional vocals to create some unsettling duets.
Relaxer is an album of restrained beauty. It has a very folky presence about it, making its emotional side come out much further. Towards the end of the record is the quiet 'Last Year,' a beautiful duet creating cavernous harmonies as they come together in massive chords above the quiet acoustic instrumental in a crushing way. Something about the way "Mississippi, come back to me / Oh, Mississippi, your cold, black sleep" is sung is just heartbreaking to hear. Their cover of the traditional track 'House Of The Rising Sun' (complete with an original verse) has a very progressive sound to it, it's gentle accentuations of strings bringing subtle power to the track. 'Adeline,' which borrows its melody from a Hans Zimmer track, is another incredibly beautiful track, its dark melody and adventurous drive massive and complete.
There are few weak points on this album. 'Hit Me Like That Snare' is the only one that feels a bit misguided. It's a bit too chaotic for the album's liking, and it just doesn't feel at place on an album that has a strong folk backing. It could have worked if it was less hectic and had a darker edge to it, but it just ends up feeling like it was dropped in there to add a bit of energy to the record where it didn't any.
alt-J keeps the groove alive in Relaxer while still delivering some beautiful folk tones to the record. It's a dark record that has just the right amount of groove in it to keep it fun. It's beautiful and fun all at the same time, only a mix that alt-J can consistently deliver.
Favorite Tracks: Adeline, Last Year, 3WW
Least Favorite Track: Hit Me Like That Snare
Rating: 83 / 100
Stream or buy to Relaxer on Apple Music or Amazon: