alt-J

alt-J

Hard Drive Gold

The Dream

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Released February 11 2022

The body count on alt-J’s fourth album is high. At least three songs portray a death, another (“Losing My Mind”) explores the psyche of a serial killer, and “Get Better” is an intensely moving depiction of grief. That said, The Dream also delights in the pleasures of drinking Coke (“Bane”), instant attraction (“Powders”), and getting wasted at festivals (“U&ME”). “If you want to move people, it’s with storytelling,” singer/guitarist Joe Newman tells Apple Music.

“You want to tell the best story, and that is by giving people both sides of the coin.” Here, that storytelling is set to characteristically adventurous music. The Leeds-formed trio finds improbable tessellations between pneumatic art-rock and Stravinsky, psychedelic folk and Chicago house, and Jimi Hendrix and Cormac McCarthy, binding those patterns with iron-strong hooks. “We’ve always seen ourselves as cowboy writers,” says Newman. “We don’t know how to write a pop song, but we know that we have catchy ideas. So we just sew them together, regardless of whether it makes much sense structurally. Maybe in this album, we’re also mastering the craft of writing more traditionally.”