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Alt-J Revived – ‘3WW’ and ‘In Cold Blood’ Reviewed

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First they give us ‘3WW’. Then they hit us with ‘In Cold Blood’.

Alt-J have released two songs from their upcoming album, Relaxer, now set for release on June 2.

After the indie rock band’s 2012 album An Awesome Wave and their 2014 album This is All Yours, alt-J have continued to match their successful original tone. Relaxer will follow drummer Thom Sonny-Green’s 2016 solo album, High Anxiety.

‘3WW’ was released on 6 March as the band’s comeback, standing for ‘3 worn words’. Following instrumentals, keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton’s vocals enter in a secluded echo. Alt-J are back with their a cappella quirks and deft ability to create intense atmospheres.

What sounds like a romantic guitar harmonic throughout the song is softened with high key piano notes. The arguably simplistic lyrical genius of the band helps in forming the romantic atmosphere with mention of Verona and the heightened “I just want to love you in my own language”. If this wasn’t enough, Wolf Alice’s Ellie Roswell features from the bridge of the song, sounding sultry and very Lana Del Rey-esque.

The vastly different In Cold Blood was released on 29 March as the second single from the band’s new album. It’s wonderfully surprising how brilliant a song beginning with “crying zeros” can be.

The band have written on social media how they compiled the song using a £1.05 Casiotone keyboard from eBay and which they “began writing in our Leeds days and finished last year in London”. A high point of the song has to be from the moment of 1:18 as they introduce the deep, outstretched angry horns that intermix with a harsh guitar sound, demanding your attention. This abrasive and direct sound with the “lalala” repetitions of Gus and Joe are admittedly catchy.

After a musically intense outro, the song quickly ends with Joe singing “in cold blood” in a fantastically appropriate mic-drop fashion.

 The new single has already drawn funny YouTube comments with one having joked, “never before have I been more excited by a song that starts with binary” – and I could not agree more.

As always with alt-J, you can stand still, close your eyes and listen to the either quiet or obviously present guitars, a hint of electronica, and Joe Newman’s reverberating voice and be inspired for a whole 3-4 minutes.

Alt-J have been announced to play Glastonbury Festival in June this year which will sustain the buzz as we await the other gems soon to be released.

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