• Ryan Parker

Review: The Dream by alt-J

Harrowing, undefinable and oozing lyrical genius from every pore: let's talk about alt-J's The Dream

Image: George Muncey

Image: Infectious Music

English indie rock band alt-J released their album The Dream in February this year and are now taking it on tour around the globe. The band rose to fame with their 2012 album An Awesome Wave, which peaked at thirteen on the UK Albums Chart, and would go on to produce another two albums in 2014 and 2017 respectively. The Dream was originally promoted with the single 'U&Me' which was released alongside the announcement of the album in September 2021. Another three singles were chosen for release right up until the albums release, these included 'Get Better,' 'Hard Drive Gold' and 'The Actor.' This album seems to cut through what we have previously seen from alt-J, and after a rather lengthy break from releasing music which Gus Unger-Hamilton put down to being “a bit burnt out," we can see the new album as alt-J’s musical resurgence.

Listen to the new album


The album itself refuses to be pigeonholed, combing Joe Newman’s soft, choir-like voice with a commercial American sound to create a rather harrowing and foreboding tone which is set up perfectly in the opening song 'Bane.' The metaphors surrounding the pleasures of life are overshadowed by a looming threat of reality and death, something that is both vocally and lyrically poignant in this album.

The dream is conceptually complex and lyrically brilliant. Overall it has been received well by critics: The Guardian called it “a stroll around the curiosity shop” awarding it a four out of five star rating. The general consensus seems to be that the album is where alt-J’s ability to push boundaries flourishes. Some may say it is ambitious, but it is just everything alt-J stands for.

The band are currently on tour and are set to travel around the globe but are in the UK at the moment.


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