alt-J - Relaxer
Critic Score
Based on 35 reviews
2017 Ratings: #757 / 898
User Score
Based on 488 ratings
2017 Ratings: #521
Liked by 7 people
June 2, 2017 / Release Date
LP / Format
Atlantic, Infectious / Label / Website
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Relaxer is Alt-J’s identity crisis, but it has to be the best damn one I’ve ever heard.

Northern Transmissions
For ‘RELAXER’ alt-J outwardly project a musical freedom; the grandiose inclinations of their second record have been channelled into magnificent string arrangements that convey a cinematic bent.
The Skinny

Its compact eight tracks, running at a mere 40 minutes, offer controlled segments of medidative horizons and wry alt-pop – sequenced like binary code.

Loud and Quiet

The mission on ‘Relaxer’ seems to be to trim away any excess fabric ... It’s not all killer but most of it is.

Under The Radar
Alt-J's fellow alt-rockers will have a tough time breaking into that conversation even as it comes time for everyone to draw up their "best of 2017" lists, seeing as this astoundingly eclectic album is sure to rank high.
Great album, if not entirely relaxing.

On ‘Relaxer’, alt-J sound utterly, wonderfully like no one but themselves.


It still plays like an alt-J album – disparate and enigmatic, wry and artful. Yet ‘Relaxer’ is best explored as a gaudy anthology of anomalous but charming tales, borne out of voyeuristic observations.

The Telegraph

Relaxer dazzles and delights the ears yet still feels like the work of a band who might have something to say, if they weren’t too precious to actually come out and say it.

Alt-J don’t play by the rules - the rules bend around them.

Just as strong as their previous two albums, Relaxer sees alt-J continuing to explore new sonic territory, mixing powerful beats with dangerous, heart-wrenching tales.

alt-J still have a distinctive voice and make music in their own language, and it draws you in instantly. The issue with a few tracks on ‘Relaxer’ is how long each song will keep you interested before you tune out, and overall, how underwhelming the experience of the album as a whole can be – a couple of less thought-out ideas have much more of an effect when the album is so short.
A heady and sometimes capricious piece of work that vacillates between pastoral folk, classical crossover, proto-punk, and progressive rock, the Mercury Prize-winning trio's third LP is never clear about its overall intentions.

While it's surprisingly early in Alt-J's careers to release what is essentially their version of an acoustic album, Relaxer provides a necessary change-up that keeps the band's iconic sound from becoming a caricature of itself.

The Line of Best Fit

The hodgepodge feel is a shame, because at its best RELAXER is euphoric and poignant, at its worst it is frustrating and lumpy.

The Independent

Relaxer is effectively Alt-J’s folk album: still studious and tending towards complexity, but here tempered by a rootedness that snags emotions more directly.

The Guardian
It’s a short yet extravagant blow-out, a Heston Blumenthal banquet of an album, so consumed with its own belligerently perplexing path, it may exclude peripheral fans.
Rolling Stone

At times their idea-heavy songs can feel weighed down by cleverness. But Alt-J can create a dark beauty that's like moonlight on an English moor.

It is hit and miss in both the best and worst senses of that phrase, willing to allow the laughably ugly to exist alongside the sublimely beautiful.
The Observer

The trio haven’t exactly poured a vat of chemical hair relaxer into their laptops, but on this third outing they have taken a detangling wet brush to their try-hard songcraft, leaving space for these eight oblique tracks ... to breathe more cinematically.

A.V. Club

In its eight songs, Relaxer feels as though it covers almost as many musical moods and genres. That overload, combined with its stylistic hairpin turns, leave one feeling queasy and slightly confused, lessening the impact of its more successful cuts.

The 405

Relaxer highlights the best and the absolute worst of Alt-J. That’s what makes it such a frustrating, and yet fascinating, listen.

Consequence of Sound

Relaxer represents ambition and a willingness to take chances. The downside is that it finds the band in a state of confusion, pulled in all directions and sacrificing a sense of cohesion.

Drowned in Sound

For all their clever allusions and grandiose ensembles, alt-J really ARE just your average, self-serving pop stars, that project art as a limelight upon themselves rather than hold it like a mirror up to the world they’ve experienced.

Pretty Much Amazing

As their original creative well starts to run dry, Relaxer’s experimentalism suggests that Alt-J will continue to struggle with other styles.

It adds up to a disjointed, uneasy compilation of songs, with the band seemingly refusing to conform to expectation.
No Ripcord

RELAXER is a beast that will be divisive at best, and I’m going to rate it bang in the middle of outstanding and abhorrent in keeping with that thought.

The Needle Drop

alt-J's third album is the UK art pop outfit's most inconsistent yet.


The truth is that alt-J have never had an identity, really, apart from Newman’s mangled lyrics and the fidgety, distracted arrangements of their songs. RELAXER shows us what remains after those quirks are dialed back: some perfectly nice, perfectly blank lads who have no idea why they are standing in front of you and even less of an idea what to say.

God Is in the TV

An over-reliance on whispery vocals and barely-there tunes mean a good half of the tracklisting is lightweight at best.

lmao what
Relaxer is... relaxing.
Good ideas, questionable execution

I don’t know guys, I think this album is really good. It’s not their best (it’s their worst so far), but you guys are giving this album way less appreciation than it deserves. This is without question the most unique alt-j album, as it’s their most experimental and abstract. “3WW” and “Adeline” are easily some of their best songs, and I like the random detours such as “Hit Me Like That Snare”. I think some of the songs can ... read more
This album is incredibly frustrating. It has so many interesting, original, fresh ideas and yet they are weighed down in completely avoidable ways. The production feels unbalanced, and a lot of the tracks sound like demos, rather than finished products. All to often the vocals are drowned out by a disorientating clatter of instruments and the record as a whole does not feel very cohesive.

That said, I really enjoy a lot of the tracks (even the ones that sound more like demos have endearing ... read more
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Added on: March 3, 2017