Our take: A Review of Alt-J’s New Single “Hunger of the Pine”

Our Rating

I was almost nervous to press play on this new track by Alt-J. Their debut album, “An Awesome Wave“, is one of my favorite albums from the past two years, and I didn’t want a new track to spoil the idealized image I had of Alt-J in the chance that it swayed away in the wrong direction from the near-perfect sound they had fostered in their first album. Also, the now trio’s former bassist Gwil Sainsburg left, so I was cautiously curious of how this would change the band as a whole. Luckily, “Hunger of the Pine” delivered. That’s not to say that this track follows in the same strain of their previous, but evolution is a good thing, when done in the right way. Alt-J pushed their sound to a whole new depth in this single, adding more harsh elements with their instrumental choices as opposed to the soft acoustics and percussions that characterize previous songs like Matilda.  Following in the same strain of previous tracks, however, Alt-J continues their pattern of creating truly beautiful and honest lyrics, expressing profound and complicated feelings and emotions with their work. One aspect of “Hunger of the Pine” that really caught me by surprise was the inclusion of soundbites of Miley Cyrus singing “I’m a female rebel”. I would’ve never expected this from the band that created Something Good (my personal favorite from “An Awesome Wave“) and Taro, which both seem like the farthest thing away from the pop sound. But, then again, it isn’t too surprising considering Alt-J is known for pushing boundaries in music innovation, and this time they choose to do so by, ironically, tying in elements of pop that flood our radios, creating a unique juxtaposition of sounds. If this is any indication of what’s in store for their album “This Is All Yours” out in September, then the music world has a lot to look forward to.

For a list of tour dates, visit their website.

The Breakdown

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Liza is a former Atwood Magazine contributor.