Alt-J - This Is All Yours 2LP
Special colored vinyl pressing, includes mp3 download of album.
The 2012 Mercury Prize winners begin their sophomore outing with the subversively titled "Intro," a four-and-a-half-minute highlight reel of what's to come that pairs the monastic chanting that prefaced An Awesome Wave's first single, "Fitzpleasure," with a pastiche of new age and worldbeat-blasted ambient pop that suggests Mogwai by way of Peter Gabriel's Real World studios circa 1990 -- it's both planetarium laser light show and art installation ready. The muted yet equally heady "Arrival in Nara," all fingerpicked electric guitar and diffusive synths, and its more muscular yet no less monkish second half, "Nara," do little to rein in the holistic atmosphere that's so decisively laid out in the remarkably potent This Is All Yours' opening moments, which makes the arrival of the punchy, carnally minded "Every Other Freckle" and the meaty, Anglo-Motown thump of "Left Hand Free" so thrilling, but hardly unexpected. After all, this is a band that proved with its debut that it can go from icy, distant, and often excruciatingly beautiful to downright feral at the crack of a snare drum (or pots and pans, as the group's humble, dorm room beginnings often required), and This Is All Yours does little to tarnish their reputation as choirboys with dark passengers. That penchant for edgy refinement, along with frontman Joe Newman's elastic voice, remains the band's most effective weapon, but it's hard to pinpoint where and when that magic occurs, as it's so effortlessly woven into the group's sound. It's somewhere in between the autumnal and apocalyptic, Miley Cyrus-sampling "Hunger of the Pine," the bucolic, recorder-led "Garden of England," and the oddly soulful, midnight-black posturing of "The Gospel of John Hurt," and it gets under your skin, where it somehow manages to both hurt and heal.