“Alt-J” Press it on a keyboard and you get ∆. The delta. The symbol of change. And with a new album comes something, “Same same, but different,” as they say in Thailand. I got a chance to see ∆ Tuesday, in a small room, and I think I might have levitated. It was spiritual. Only Alt-J can make you suddenly realize you’ve always wanted to be a bag of chips, “I’m gonna bed into you like a cat beds into a beanbag / Turn you inside out and lick you like a crisp packet.”
And here’s the change that’s been throwing everybody off—a song that sounds like Black Keys / Jack White / Beck / Not Alt- J. But there is an explanation.
Speaking about the new track, they have called it “the least Alt-J song ever”, written to appease their American label who didn’t think the recently released ‘Hunger Of The Pine’ was a “big single”. Discussing ‘Left Hand Free’ in The Guardian, they say the song was written in 20 minutes and is based around a “joke riff” that frontman Joe Newman started playing one day. Drummer Thom Green says of the track: “I tried to make the drums as cliched as possible, there’s none of my personality in it”. Newman adds: “And I say, ‘Gee whizz’, which I’m not sure is a phrase I’ve ever uttered before. I can imagine it appealing to American truckers with Good Riddance To Bin Laden stickers!” Keyboard player Gus Unger-Hamilton then states: “Oh God… Someone’s going to walk onstage to it at an NRA convention.”
They then retracted the statements saying that the song is serious…. obviously their label was not happy. And looking at the video, you begin to wonder. The song and the video are such quality that you can embrace it as serious work. Yet, at the same time, even the video is super American—if you know their initial statements, it’s seems obviously tongue-in-cheek. You tell me.
And finally this quote from the Guardian that is delicious. Art is too often glorified because the artist is some “Brilliant Eccentric.”
“We’re not deliberately being an anti-rock band. If you came on tour with us, you’d see us get drunk and do a lot of silly stuff. We’re not literally reading aloud from The River Cottage Year and knitting cardigans – we just don’t turn up in leather jackets and sunglasses and get the shots in for a lunchtime interview with the Guardian.”Green added: “I quite like people thinking that we’re normal, ‘cos we are. I think we do make interesting music, and I’d rather have that than make average music and have to compensate by being ridiculous people. To me, the coolest bands are Portishead and Radiohead who are completely normal.”