Alt-J, an English band whose genre seeps into almost everything, from electro-pop, to rock, to folk, and everything in between, released their third album, “Relaxer,” this summer. Three tracks were released as singles before the album: “3WW,” “In Cold Blood,” and “Adeline.” These were pretty good and generated hype for the release of the album. Unfortunately, that’s when we learned that the singles are the best songs on “Relaxer.”
“Pleader” takes half of its allotted length to get to the singing, which I normally wouldn’t mind if the first half of the song was interesting. Instead the song is boring and tedious. If I have to sit through two-and-a-half minutes to get to the good part of a song, I’m not going to listen to it often.
“Hit Me Like That Snare” isn’t boring, but it’s also not good. It’s the most different on this album, but that’s not always a good thing. The fact that “Relaxer” is only eight tracks doesn’t leave much room for mistakes. Although six of the songs feature strings performed by the London Metropolitan Orchestra, there isn’t a real cohesive sound to the collection; I would have liked at least two more songs in order to tie in some sort of creative theme.
This album wasn’t more of the same Alt-J that we knew, but it’s not completely new either. “In Cold Blood” is similar to “Left Hand Free” (from the group’s second album) in structure and sound, and “Adeline” is very similar to some of the slower songs on their first album, “An Awesome Wave.”
Overall, “Relaxer” is a solid 6 out of 10, in my opinion. It’s some good music, but I don’t think it’s a landmark album in Alt-J’s career. I see it as a stepping stone to a new sound for the band, and I’m already anticipating their next album.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.