On »An Awesome Wave«, four British lads have combined something strangely called “the best” – as people say today – of folk, meaningful basslines and a bit of sampling. Of course, it has not only been found out recently that an acoustic guitar sounds good on top of electronic beats, but still: with Alt-J, one has the feeling of experiencing something fresh, and, sorry, unheard so far. Clever, free flowing, folkily-structured songs, spherical and soft guitars on top and beats that seem to be flirting with dubsteb make the band stand somewhere between Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, the Foals and James Blake in the record shelves. How that goes together with the cryptic hipster-aesthetics-approach of the name (Alt-J is the short cut for ∆), remains unclear. It doesn’t really matter, either, it somehow seems to belong to the boys’ attitudes to life. And if it helps them to record such a special debut (including a snazzy triangle-artwork and -packaging), then we really shouldn’t care less. What’s best about »An Awesome Wave« is the skillful intermingling of twangy, yet beautiful folk-bubbles of voices with sphrecial-smart indie-sound after the crackling intro and the first acapella-interlude. »Something Good« has the perfect chorus, in which everything that belongs together gets together: surprising vocal melodies and guitar samples. »Ms« starts out as a classic folk song and has a first-class instrumental part as a somewhat blank chorus. And in case the listener didn’t get the thing with folk until the very end, the band helps out explaining it to us by finishing the record with the only actual folksong on the album by the name of »Hand-made«.
An Awesome Wave