Is Alt-J’s new album truly “The Dream”?

The indie band has had to shake off rumors of its commercial success in recent years

Kelly Ashton, Arts & Culture Writer

Although they have a growing fanbase, the band Alt-J was never respected for their creative take on music. The band has gained popularity through appearances in projects such as “Outer Banks” and”Captain America: Civil War,” but critics continually bashed their take on the instrumental music and overlooked the meaning of the lyrics of most of their songs. In fact, many viewed the band as a “commercial” band, and thought that they did not take their music seriously. There were many factors that contributed to the three-year disappearance of Alt-J, yet the main reason is believed to be the lack of respect from the media. 

Fans believed that the band might have been coming to an end, considering the sorrowful tone of the last song included in “Reduxer,” the last album released before their three-year break. That was until the sudden release of the single “U&ME” on September 22, 2021. The single set high standards for the rest of the album. It matched the band’s past quirky beats and lively sounds, yet it also incorporated a factor of unique musical patterns including both audio and instrumental tunes. The single, however, was just the beginning of what songs were yet to come. On February 12, Alt-J’s new album “The Dream” was released, and it was everything the fans expected and more. 

The album opened with the song “Bane.” The song consists of a mainly instrument based sound, and has few lyrics and gives off vibes similar to The Beatles. It is both emotional and angry, however, it has a very monotone background. The band had a very creative take on the song, and included sounds from an electric guitar to a coca cola bottle. Along with the variety of sounds in the song, there are a variety of songs throughout the album. Whether it’s the charming vocal melodies included in “Happier When You’re Gone” or the upbeat feel included in “The Actor,” Alt-J succeeded in every aspect of the album. 

The flow of the album and the order it was arranged in contributes to the overall indie vibe the band is trying to get across. The closing song in the album is “Powders” which begins with seven seconds of complete silence. The band includes a faint guitar strum before they begin to sing the lyrics. As the song continues the instruments become louder and listeners can start to realize that there is a story trying to be told. Slow beats and old voicemails all reveal the band’s regrettable decisions with loved ones. The song greatly relates to fans who listen to the song, and tries to pass along the concept that humans are just humans, and they make mistakes. The song was a perfect way to close the album, and brought a personal aspect into the band’s music. 

The overall structure of the album demonstrates the band’s creative approach, and helps fans understand why the band needed to take a break. The album has already drawn in many new listeners, and critics who once negatively wrote about the band are now praising their new work. After the success of “The Dream,” fans hope to see another album soon.