Alt-J – Reduxer

Alt-J’s declaration that ‘It’s no secret that we love and are influenced by hip hop’ can’t help bring to mind the guitar-botherers in the 1980s who, after slapping a baggy beat onto their bog-standard indie music, declared that ‘there’s always been a dance music element to our music’.

Yeah, right … genre mashups are usually the last resort of bands who have totally lost their way. So the news that Alt-J have handed over their last album, Relaxer, to a range of hip-hop luminaries to do with what they will does not inspire optimism. Luckily, many collaborators clearly felt feel free to take liberties with the source material. Terrace Martin and Goldlink transport the original vocal of ‘Last Year’ and drop it off into a smokey down tempo jam before veering off into trip-hop territory, while Tuka re-imagines the Alt-J boys’ already downcast reimagining of ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ and takes it to an even darker place.

Elsewhere, Lomepal pours laconic Gallic verse all over the album’s second take on ‘3WW’, before Kontra K efficiently interlocks his Teutonic flow with ‘In
Cold Blood’ vocal hooks to build a streamlined pop machine. All the same, it’s not clear who this record will really appeal to – it’s possibly not Alt-Jy enough for fans of the band, but at the same time some tracks don’t venture far enough from the indie path mapped by the source material to break new ground.

So, possibly not the departure the band had hoped for, but sometimes it’s all about the journey rather than the destination and there’s plenty to enjoy along the way.

9/10 Julian Crockford

Order the album here.

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