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Altrok Showcase w/ Sean Carolan

CD of The Week

Week of 2/14/22

    alt-J - The Dream (Atlantic)

    An alt-J album usually sounds like an alt-J album, and rarely anything else. The fourth release from the Leeds, UK trio entitled The Dream also confirms that they'll never fit into one specific mold. This lush, slow burn of an album runs the gamut of experimental indie rock, from quirky electronic to introspective acoustic. Through these twelve songs, alt-J explores the depth and darkness of the human condition, while still having fun with nostalgia and new love.

    "Bane" starts off the album with the opening of a soda pop can narrated by an advert-style voice exclaiming "Cold and sizzling!" What follows is a two-part epic of orchestral swaths and trippy psychedelia all just to accompany the simplistic memory of being a youth addicted to cola. "U&ME" is the radio single that will forever stand alongside "Fitzpleasure" and "Left Hand Free," and "Hard Drive Gold" focuses on the fascination younger generations have with crypto.

    "Happier When You're Gone" could be about murderous revenge, and "The Actor" surmises (and possibly glorifies) what John Belushi's '82 overdose was like at the famous Hollywood hotel Chateau Marmont. The nearly six-minute acoustic track "Get Better" reveals the loss of a loved one with heartfelt acknowledgments of frontline workers. It's a beautifully soul-crushing song that wouldn't be out of place on an episode of Ricky Gervais' series "After Life." The companion pieces "Chicago" and "Philadelphia" find the trio of Gus Unger-Hamilton, Thom Sonny Green, and Joe Newman (plus producer Charlie Andrew) exploring different musical themes from ethereal techno, prog, and baroque.

    While alt-J has a penchant for the dark, including "Losing My Mind" about a father who discovers his son was the victim of a serial killer, the album closes on a charming note with "Powder," and ode to the naiveté of young love. It's a breath of hope and joy in a world that needs it most, and no matter how the listener realizes the entire album, The Dream will live up to its title.

    alt-J return to Philadelphia with Portugal. The Man and Cherry Glazer on Wednesday, April 13th at The Mann Center.
    Review by Dave Lindquist

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