Ignore the obvious. alt-J have their own route to success.
alt-J’s spectacular doesn’t work in the same way as that of other bands. While their peers may need to go off the tallest cliff edge to build up that terminal velocity, they instead work away in the lab, cooking up plans to reach that critical breakthrough by other, less obvious methods.
That’s how ‘3WW’ - or ‘3 Worn Words’ - works. Few others would choose to return for their third album with an almost gentle, delicate affair, but it’s a move which is almost trademark alt-J.
That’s not to say ‘3WW’ is predictable, though. It’s clearly the same band who found their way to arenas by playing the least arena like music possible, but - now they’ve reached that level - there’s a new level of confidence in their methods. They don’t have to play by anyone else’s rules. alt-J simply need to be the best version of themselves.
With a shimmering first half, the walls of blissful sound that occasionally stab through in the second sound genuinely exciting. Gus Unger-Hamilton and Joe Newman trade verses, but it’s the late-on inclusion of Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell that really lifts ‘3WW’ to a new level. Bringing a depth of hidden meaning and intent to a handful of lines, it takes a pleasant suggestion and turns it into a special promise. By using brains over brawn, alt-J have yet again found the solution without needing to throw themselves over the edge. Stephen Ackroyd