Title: “An Awesome Wave”
For those who wondered what it might sound like if Devendra Banhart fronted a folktronica group, look no further than England’s Alt-J, which takes its name from the keystrokes needed to type the symbol for an equilateral triangle on an Apple computer.
“An Awesome Wave” is one of 2012′s more impressive debuts. “Wave” has quirky moments that sometimes feel like they’re too knowing, too intentional, but for the most part, Alt-J finds a void between indulgence and somber sweetness and settles there.
In some places, their aesthetic takes on one of a merging between post-rock and indie rock, with glassy, atmospheric soundscapes met with standard rock beats. “Tessellate” is one of 2012′s finest tracks, a slinky bass lick gliding all the way to the floor as Joe Newman hints at the group’s Cambridge founding and its name: “Triangles are my favorite shape / Three points where two lines meet.”
“Wave” often sounds like a lament, many times its lyrics dealing with broken hearts and relationships. It’s slathered in a swath of sounds to bury the emotion a bit.
With Newman’s Banhart-sounding nasal sneer and its smarts, it’s no wonder “Wave” won England’s Mercury Prize.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.