Single Review: alt-j - In Cold Blood | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Single Review: alt-j – In Cold Blood

Letty Gardner reviews the second single released by alt-j from their upcoming record

Alt-J’s second single from their upcoming third album Relaxer is wonderfully bizarre, feel-good, and a great indicator of what we have to look forward to. ‘In Cold Blood’, alongside ‘3WW’, the first single released, presents alt-j as a sure sound for summer 2017. The new punchy track is big, powerful, and dramatic, with its brass elements filling out the band’s former minimal sound, whilst it also retains alt-j’s classic playfulness and absurdity.

The new punchy track is big, powerful, and dramatic

‘In Cold Blood’ opens with the non-descript, bizarre lyrics ‘01110011/ Crying zeros and I'm nearing 111’. As usual, achingly cryptic, as Alt-J’s writing always is, but it makes for a catchy opening, as it bounces alongside the jolting drumming, characteristic of the band’s Thom Green.

As if almost predicting the summer success of their album, lead singer Joe Newman sings ‘Hair the way the sun really wants it to be/ Whiskey soda, please, your G&T is empty/ Dips, inflatables have sunk to the bottom/ Pool, summer, summer, pool, pool, summer’. Again, not very coherent, but we get the gist. This is a track, and an album, to be listened to on those glorious summer days. alt-j, hoping to provide the perfect soundtrack for this, have done so with ‘In Cold Blood’.

This is a track, and an album, to be listened to on those glorious summer days

For me, ‘In Cold Blood’ harkens back to tracks from ‘An Awesome Wave’, such as ‘Taro’ or ‘Something Good’, in the way it builds up to an instrumental and dramatic finale, whilst also foregrounding subtler elements of the track in its opening and close.

The official video for ‘In Cold Blood’ is yet to arrive, but in the meanwhile we can enjoy the techy, strobe-filled work that accompanies the official audio, created by Mario Epsley / Keepitvisual, a similar video accompanying ‘3WW’.

In discussion with NME, Alt-J said ‘The brass was recorded at Abbey Road; the keyboards were done on a Casiotone that cost £1.05 on eBay; and no one is quite sure where the key change comes from. We hope you enjoy it’.  Alt-J are not moving far from their playful roots, as the Casiotone suggests, but rather their music is taking on a greater dynamism, and they are not shying away from the bigger sounds. Relaxer is set to be released on June 2nd, and I cannot wait to hear it.

Second year English student


15th April 2017 at 4:26 pm

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