Thoughts on Alt-J (∆)
So tonight I once again indulged in the comfort music called Alt-J. I call them comfort music because whenever I enter a phase of listening to them I have a hard time stopping. The same could be said for bands like Radiohead and Beck. They’re in a way the potato chip bags of bands. You can endlessly consume them but after the first 5 or 6 listens the music no longer has anything interesting to offer. At this point you have to take a break and swallow it down with something strange or new.
What makes Alt-J, or any other band for that matter, comfort music? Well, I feel comfortable listening to them. They’re not threatening to anything that I already know and I have heard each song enough times to attach a little emotional sticky note to each one. That being said comfort music is something that everyone has and the term itself is completely subjective. Whether it be Taylor Swift, Black Sabbath or Beck, if you feel comfortable listening to it over and over again then it’s comfort music.
Then you may be asking, “ok fine so I get it but why does it matter?” The simple answer is that for most people it doesn’t. They can listen to the same 3 albums from the time that they’re teenagers to the day they die and that’s perfectly fine. But for someone who cares for music I find it incredibly important that I actively curate what I listen to and I have to be vigilant to not fall into the trap of listening to the same albums over and over again.
This here, is my problem with Alt-J, I find their sound so appealing that I could honestly put An Awesome Wave up on a wall with ten or so of my favorite albums and just listen to that until I die. The truth is that I simply don’t want to do that. It’s incredibly important to me that I keep finding new music to listen to.
Now we come to the next step in our journey where we realize that Alt-J serves another purpose. I believe the solution to comfort music is to use it as a reference. When I find an album that is as amazing to me and as familiar to me as one like An Awesome Wave or even something I’ve known almost my entire life like OK Computer It’s important to use the reference from the album as a way of digesting something new.
Simply put, Alt-J will always be one of my favorite bands but I don’t believe that there is much, much better music out there that needs to be discovered. And when I find what I’m looking for I know that the music I’ve known will be there to comfort me.
I’m such a goddamn hipster,
PS. Go listen to Alt-J if you haven’t already, they’re absolutely fantastic. Just be sure to swallow it with something you’re familiar with afterwards.