Self-disclosure: I'm a humongous alt-J fan. I used to put on the third album, RELAXER, every night for two years to help me sleep. It got so bad my old boyfriend bought me the vinyl when I don't even have a record player.
I've noticed a distinct lack of music content on E2, especially anything to do with post punk, electronic, or really anything popular past 1999. I'm not sure if this is by design and I should keep my feelings on alternative music from the 10s to myself, but really that's a virtual world I don't want to live in.
First Album An Awesome Wave:
I started listening to alt-J in high school (I am 23) when this acquaintance-type girl always-kinda-just-around started talking to me about the newly released song Breezeblocks. I think I'd heard it on Pandora or something and liked it, so we bonded. I also loved Tessellate from this album, which does (as does the former) get some infrequent radio play. I don't want to overstate but I think this might have been the first time I was really captivated by the story of an album, also alt-J was big on intertextuality in their lyrics i.e.
Fitzpleasure is a reference to a fictitious gang rape with a broomstick found in the 1964 book Last Exit to Brooklyn.
Taro is about the real death of photojournalist Robert Capa when he stepped on a landmine.
There are probably a lot more easter eggs in the first album but truthfully I find the FUN FACT dissection of alt-J songs through whatever Genius or Guardian interviews to be stupid. I avoided reading any of the bandmate's public statements or fan theories because they always deflated the song a bit for me, as my favorite part of alt-J is their vague and often impenetrable lyrics. There was this kid at my school who would always tell me about how ACTUALLY Left Hand Free was written as a fuck you to the record label for not allowing them to be creative, and did I know Fitzpleasure was actually about a gang rape?? etc. I disliked him.
Second Album This Is All Yours:
This album got a bit more radio play in the late-10s with the aforementioned Left Hand Free as well as Hunger of the Pine and Every Other Freckle. This is by far my least favorite album since I find the big songs a bit generic and lackluster. Also, they tried to do the same Intro/Interlude/Coda format as the first album but this time it just feels full of itself. My favorite song on this album is the cover of Lovely Day at the very end and NO I'm not just saying that to be different because it's a bonus track. Also, it should be noted that the guitar player left the band between the first and second albums, rumored to be due to his distaste for touring. He was never replaced, so I wonder if alt-J was struggling to find their new sound while down a man during this time.
Third Album RELAXER:
Mother Fucking RELAXER. Now this. Listen to this album while you're in your final year of high school - while your mom is getting out of control with anxiety - while there's latent tension from your childhood so you're out avoiding your responsibilities with your weird boyfriend. Put on RELAXER. Bonus: listen to it while you're trying to become a functioning person during your first year of college. Put it on to help you fall asleep inside your tiny little dorm. Put it on any time you want your anxiety gone by the time Adeline plays.
And YES, I know that most people hate the cover of House of the Rising Sun, but tell me a more reimagined cover of ANYTHING. They redefined what a cover could be with this. If you wanted the original song just go listen to it.
Fourth Album The Dream:
This album came out early last year and when I say I was psyched.. I was beyond excited for this album. The release date was written on my calendar for months. I listened to the pre-released songs into oblivion. I wrote up a full album review that I'll make a separate node for at some point, but all you need to know is this album controversially rocks.
Last year I also saw alt-J live in Seattle, and then again in Berlin over the summer. Both times I felt conflicted since the whole never meet your heroes has some truth, and it's especially true when your heroes are three liberal arts students from Leeds.
Overall, alt-J is a meaningful part of my life and I think it could be for you too. A few years ago my family was on one of the only vacations we ever took, driving a motorhome through the Alaskan wilderness trying to reach Denali National Park. My dad and I had never shared music up to this point, despite him working at a record store through college and having an original iPod with the likes of Green Day, Foo Fighers, and of course Nirvana solidly installed. In this one precious moment, I took control of the aux and broke the silence we had been sitting in for 5 days to play the first alt-J album. Hey, my dad said, this is pretty good!