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Single Review: Alt-J – Hunger of the Pine

Single Review: Alt-J – Hunger of the Pine

Artist: Alt-J
Single: Hunger of the Pine
Tracks: 1
Release Date: 19th June 2014
Label: Infectious
From the Album: This Is All Yours

From the minds that produced An Awesome Wave featuring songs such as Fitzpleasure, and Tessellate, and Something Good, comes the single Hunger of the Pine from the upcoming album This Is All Yours, due for release on the 22nd September through Infectious Records. It’s been two years since the Leeds band released their début album and considering its success winning such awards as the Barclaycard Mercury Prize and the Ivor Novello Record of the Year, it has certainly set the mark for the new album.

This Is All Yours

This Is All Yours

Hunger of the Pine comes with much significance for the fans of Alt-J, as it is the first officially released music to not feature founding member Gwil Sainsbury, the original bassist for the band. The band state that they followed a cycle of writing the songs for their new album, which occurred whilst touring their début album; approaching the city of Nara, being in the city of Nara and then leaving the Japanese city, although the album itself was recorded in the same place as An Awesome Wave, in London’s Iguana Studios and the single was also written in London.

The single is vastly different from anything we’ve heard from the first album, although that stands to reason as Alt-J often stylise themselves using the Delta character: ∆, which represents change or difference. Hunger of the Pine is dark and omnipresent, eerie and haunting, yet minimalist and trance-like. The entirety of the song is constructed on deeply layered components flowing seamlessly.

Thom Green, the drummer of Alt-J has provided a very staple beat, typical of the band and offers a pulsating, and driving force to the song. What follows these drums can only be described as a Wall of Sound, pleasantly enveloping to the point where the listener may not be sure what it is they’re hearing any more. Controversially, the track features a sample from 4×4 a song by the infamous Miley Cyrus, which originated from a remix Thom Green had done, and requested its use for their own song. Whether you’re a fan of Miley or not, the sample: “I’m a female rebel”, fits superbly with the song, and is taken so far out of context from 4×4 that at times it would be easy to forget it had come from a Cyrus track. Interestingly, the band fade out with an almost chant-like mantra, entirely in French, reading: “Une immense espérance traversée la terre, une immense espérance a traversée ma peur.” Which to my understanding, translates as; ‘A Great Hope through the earth, a Great Hope has crossed my fear’. Mysterious and poetic, much like the rest of the song. Alt-J have a brilliant ability to sing their lyrics, and you’ll take them in and become a part of the song, and not always understand what it is that you’ve heard. It’s like Avant-Garde poetry to music.

Overall, if you’re looking for something new, something you haven’t heard before from Alt-J, Hunger of the Pine promises to be that song, and it hopefully paves the way for the rest of the album This Is All Yours. That being said, the mesmerizing approach to song-writing and construction is something very familiar and there can be no mistake that it’s Alt-J behind the mic.

If you would like to hear more from Alt-J, click the links below:
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