The Unique Styles of Alt-J Take You on a Cinematic-Melodic Excursion

Heavily influenced by books, movies, and popular culture, the Leeds natives form a solid collection of student experimentation paired with an articulate mathematical interpretation of popular music. The album “An Awesome Wave” is an understatement, as the indie pop band Alt J express the thin line between love and the kinetic energy of lust.

Symbiosis is the co-existence of two separate organisms that is beneficial to both. It is a powerful force when combined to make a greater relationship. To make a prosperous union. When the river meets the shore, it gently approaches like a hesitant child, feeling rain for the first time. The river flows in a calming way, creating awesome waves of life and longevity. Similar to symbiosis, literature and music can be combined together like a tasteful peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich. The two components have their own delicious taste, but when morphed together, cemented between fluffy bread, it is irresistible. But something combined in such a manner, can also be complex. Alt J combines their experimental sounds with poetic literature content thus making monumental music


“I basically went to art school to start a band”

A young musician, Joe Newman had the desire to form a band during his academic studies at Leeds University in 2007. With members Thom Sonny Green (drums) Gus Unger Hamilton (keyboard/vocals) and Gwil Sainbury (guitar/base) the band shared an admiration for history, culture, and literature. The original name they had intended to use, “The Films”, was already taken. So, the band had to resort to using Alt J, an I-mac shortcut used to spell the Greek symbol “delta”. Delta indicates “change” or “difference” in various technical fields.

Their style was formed from a mixture of sounds contained in the student dorms, which did not allow heavy vibrant bass guitars or bass drums, mixed with influences taken from numerous movies, cultures, history, and literature. After graduating, the band signed with Infectious Music, which created a stable foundation to promote their musical content. Alt J’s debut album “An Awesome Wave” arrived on the shores of multiple countries on May 28th 2012.

The band fell into contemporary, experimental pop fame, touring with bands such as Wild Beasts in countries such as Ireland, the United States, and Canada. Experimental Pop is a subgenre of popular music that cannot be categorized with traditional pop parameters. Experimental pop incorporates techniques such as musique concrete, aleatoric music, and eclecticism in musical contents.  Alt J has additionally, gained recognition for their postmodern lyricism highlighting pivotal moments in world history.

Listen to Alt J’s Live Performance on NPRS Tiny Desk Now! 



Within cinematic realms, romantic love practically melts out of our screens, inspiring people to live with their gentle hearts on their sleeves. The perpetual desire for endless love can be described through the dramatic tale of Romeo and Juliet. Or for the millennial generation, High School Musical. But the contemporary band found a brilliant way to capture the essence of this passionate nature in the song Taro.

Alt J shares a non-fictional love story of Greta Taro. Greta Taro played an influential role as a war photographer during the Spanish Civil War and had a strong connection with her lover, Robert Capa. The song vocalizes his tragic death as the expression of reuniting with his deceased lover Taro, earnestly fulfilled through hope and devotion.

Indo china kappa jumps jeep two feet creep up the road” is an example of how Alt J absorbs emotions lyrically to form a masterpiece of imagery. “Do not spray into my eye, I have sprayed you into my eyes” . The interpretation cries for the reluctant nature of falling in love. Capa proclaims that it would be much better if he was never in love with Taro to save her from harm and future pain. The time of Capa’s death was 3:10, which is stated prominently in the lyrics. The additional number “3.1415” expresses the algebraic numeric value of pie. Pie is the infinite number. It can go on forever, which is a symbol of their bond and the love they will always have together.



A controversial outlook on romantic love can be infatuated love. The obsession that love can create for another, can seem overly persuasive, but also dangerous. Inspired by the children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are” Alt J proclaims the twists and turns of domestic violence and how love can change your image or perception for all the wrong reasons, in their hit Breezeblocks.

At the end of the popular children’s book, a cannibalistic nature from a monstrous beast suggests a form of fear and resentment towards a loved one. The boisterous creature cries out in longing…


Oh, please don’t go! We’ll eat you whole! We love you so!



“The Amazing Wave” album is a creation of purity and intellect. The attention to lyrical detail is refreshing for the world of pop. The constant flow of imagery that takes you to another world. The atmosphere that the album creates truly opens the ears to a new sound. The scenery and vibes the album births give the listener a chance to get lost in a river of imagination.

With a strong 9 out of 10, Alt J is the definition of poetic freedom. Newman’s unique tone and vocal gesture however can sometimes make the lyrics unrecognizable. Embracing the artistic choice in vocal styling does not push away from the greatness Alt J delivers. If you are a nature lover, The Amazing Wave can sway you into the wonders of the wilderness through a hike, or a relaxing time by the shore. Alt J reminds us that music can literally be anything you want it to be.

Spread the vibes with Alt J now!


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Photo: Shutterstock – Christian Bertrand


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