Last month I reviewed alt-J (∆)’s new track ‘Hunger Of The Pine’. A track which included Miley Cyrus and the heavy use of horns, which resulted in a song that this grand epic feel to it. Whack in a hip hop beat and you get an alt-J (∆) that has grown up and continues to impress. For a more in depth review check out my review of it here https://nothingleftunsaidblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/alt-j-%E2%88%86-hunger-of-the-pine-track-review/.
Now alt-J (∆) have released another track off their upcoming album ‘This Is All Yours’ in the form of ‘Left Hand Free’. ‘Left Hand Free’, much like ‘Hunger Of The Pine’, is a different sound to what we’ve come to expect from alt-J (∆). This worked well with ‘Hunger Of The Pine’ but I’m afraid to say it’s not worked as well for ‘Left Hand Free’. Since it’s release earlier today it has been compared to The Black Keys for numerous reasons. It has this 70’s blues vibe to it that has been associated with The Black Keys over the years. However there are elements that sound like tracks off Django Django’s debut, like ‘Hail Bop’ and ‘Default’.
But enough of comparisons, let’s talk about the track itself. According to the band, the track was written in 20 minutes to appease their American label because they believed that ‘Hunger Of The Pine’ wasn’t good enough. It begins with twanging guitars that seem peculiar to be part of alt-J (∆)’s music. The vocals from frontman Joe Newman sound like they are being played through an old record player. They have a crackly vintage sound to them, just like the tracks off Jake Bugg’s debut or the hidden track ‘Hand-Made’ off alt-J (∆)’s album ‘An Awesome Wave’. It’s like the track has been given an an Instagram filter placed on it to make it sound old. The guitars then turn into a sequence of chords that play throughout which give it’s Django Django feel. Then around the 1.35 mark we have a ‘keyboard solo’ (they’ve got to be ‘quirky’ somewhere, it’s alt-J (∆) for god’s sake). Then transformed into elongated synths which are accompanied by a smattering of drums. These lead into the final part of the track which mirrors what we heard earlier in the track and finishes with a rather abrupt ending.
Alt-J (∆)’s attempt at trying to please an American audience falls short in comparison to ‘Hunger of The Pine’. It’s a good song but it just lacks that alt-J (∆) vibe to it. ‘Hunger Of The Pine’, despite being different, still remained alt-J (∆) at it’s core. Left Hand Free’s lack of atmosphere is where I think it falls down. I think personally that alt-J (∆) should ignore their American label and just create music that they want to. Even though it’s not their best, it’s still a brilliant track.
These two different sounds that alt-J (∆) have shown us has got me even more excited for their album, as I can’t wait to see what other sounds they’ve experimented with. ‘This Is All Yours’ is out the 22nd of September and you can listen to ‘Left Hand Free’ below.