A heady and sometimes capricious piece of work that vacillates between pastoral folk, classical crossover, proto-punk, and progressive rock, Alt-J's third LP is never clear about its overall intentions. The same could be said about the band's two previous outings as well, but Relaxer is a thornier beast than either of them, carefully concealing its myriad barbs beneath bucolic washes of meticulously forged comeliness.
This fifth album by the Liverpudlians was their highest-charting in the U.S. The songs here, which include the U.K. Top 40 hits "The Game" and "Lips Like Sugar," were among the hookiest and most memorable the band would ever write, while the arrangements are noticeably clean and punchy, mostly eliminating strings. Surprisingly, vocalist Ian MuCulloch appeared to have rediscovered the maxim "less is more"; his singing was comparatively restrained and tasteful, resulting in a more natural, unforced emotiveness that was extremely effective.