Earworms. We all get them. Usually it’s a bad track someone unknowingly burrows into our head, unbeknownst to us. Then, as innocently as it happens, an hour after the crime is committed we find ourselves humming a ridiculous song by Lionel Richie.
More joyous, however, are the rare instances when we hear a new song and are completely taken by it, voluntarily and incessantly replaying it within our heads. And later, after buying the record it appears on, listening to it on repeat dozens of times end to end, back to back. We all do it even of we can’t readily admit it. The second to the last time this happened to me was with Washed Out’s “Amor Fati”. In fact, just today I listened to it over and over for the entirety of my U-Bahn commute of 3 stops. For the record (not sure if I mentioned it before): I’ve stopped getting stupidly annoyed at the crooked smiles of the youngsters who find my little silver iPod archaic as I pluck it out of my pocket to, well, hit repeat. Whatevs. But I digress.
Most recently, I was introduced to Alt-J, my latest obsession. Hailing from Leeds, UK, these fellows defy genre and have systematically, song by song, blown my mind.
I first listened to their work over dinner. I cannot stress enough how I must NOT listen to new music while eating. I love both food and music so freaking much that the pleasure from one cancels out that of the other, leaving my belly and my brain barren. Not pleasant. Needless to say, on the aforementioned day I was a little underwhelmed by both An Awesome Wave, Alt-J’s debut LP, and my Salmon and potatoes with dill. The vocals left me feeling unsettled. And so did the fish. Later, however…
I CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF THIS RECORD. When I finally listened on headphones the falsetto vocals (pleasantly) haunted me, yes, but the genre bending was most notable. They have their own distinct sound yet different parts of this record subtly remind me of a variety of artists’ work, all of which have nothing remotely to do with the other, career or sound-wise. Try to fit Baths, José González, Fleet Foxes (ugh), Teitur and Sébastien Tellier (all) under the same umbrella. Go ahead. I’ll give you a sec.
See? That’s a tough one, innit?
So yes, my newest play.listen.repeat. tunes are “Ms” and “Dissolve Me” (particularly 2.30-3.08) both by the lovlies Alt-J. The whole of the record is phenomenal. Just make sure you listen to it a second time before completely deciding; and concentrate on it for heaven’s sake. Bonus is that every one of their interviews I’ve watched or listened to reveal that these fellows are intelligent and good-humored chaps as well. Delightful!
Of course you can listen to the whole of Alt-J’s work via their Soundcloud page, but don’t be a cheapskate. Buy their record. Like everyone else, these men must eat…though hopefully without the sound of new music in their ears. I’d hate for such talented blokes to miss out on a delicious moment.
[Abby's Road is a Knox Road feature published every other Friday.]