An Awesome Wave

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An Awesome Wave
Studio album by alt-J (∆)
Released 25 May 2012 (2012-05-25)
Recorded 2011; Iguana Studio
(London, England)
Genre Indie rock, art rock, indie pop, experimental rock, psychedelic folk
Length 43:58
Label Infectious
Producer Charlie Andrew, Mark Bishop
alt-J (∆) chronology
An Awesome Wave
(2012)
This Is All Yours
(2014)
Singles from An Awesome Wave
  1. "Matilda/Fitzpleasure"
    Released: 24 February 2012
  2. "Breezeblocks"
    Released: 18 May 2012
  3. "Tessellate"
    Released: 13 July 2012
  4. "Something Good"
    Released: 28 September 2012
  5. "Dissolve Me"
    Released: 18 March 2013

An Awesome Wave is the debut studio album by English indie rock alt-J (∆), released on 25 May 2012 by Infectious Records. The album includes the singles "Matilda"/"Fitzpleasure", "Breezeblocks" and "Tessellate". It peaked at number thirteen on the UK Albums Chart, and also charted in Belgium, France, Netherlands and Switzerland. An Awesome Wave won the 2012 British Barclaycard Mercury Prize, and in 2013 was named Album of the Year at the Ivor Novello Awards.

Album artwork[edit]

The album artwork for An Awesome Wave is a multi-layered radar image of the Ganges river delta in Bangladesh.[1] The image in each of the three layers was acquired by the European Space Agency's Envisat Earth-observing satellite, taken separately on 20 January, 24 February and 31 March 2009. The overlaid image, titled Ganges' Dazzling Delta,[2] exposes a multitude of colours arising from the variations in background radiation occurring between the three acquisition times.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 71/100[3]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[4]
BBC Music very favourable[5]
Drowned in Sound 8/10[6]
Mojo 2/5 stars[7]
musicOMH 4.5/5 stars[8]
NME 8/10[9]
Pitchfork Media 4.8/10[10]
Robert Christgau (B+) [1]

An Awesome Wave received positive reviews from most music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 71, based on 20 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[3]

MusicOMH was the most enthusiastic, saying that "while An Awesome Wave sees the band mix a vast range of styles and instruments it never feels forced or over-complicated... This won’t be the last we hear of this utterly compelling four-piece."[8]

Drowned in Sound described An Awesome Wave as "a beautifully rounded, awesome debut album" and said "Whatever Alt-J were aiming for with their debut album, they have managed to prove their value as talented musicians, literary enthusiasts and imagery aficionados."[6]

Jenny Stevens of NME gave An Awesome Wave a positive review stating, "The charm of Alt-J's musical scatterbrain is that it works. On the surface, this is smart alt-pop, but Alt-J have messed with the formula just enough to make this a brilliantly disquieting debut. In refusing to submit to the rigours of a genre, they might just have made themselves masters of their own."[9]

Jen Long of BBC Music gave the album a positive review stating, "This album spans every workable idea, genre, and influence that can be crammed under the guitar music umbrella, yet it never feels disorientating. Instead, what swoons gracefully through speakers is an entirely comprehendible and accessible collection of beautiful pop songs."[5]

Allmusic felt that the album was "occasionally guilty of pretentiousness" but that "these eclectic arrays of sound are woven together in a manner so effortlessly that the results never feel forced or contrived... Alt-J's wave is far more awesome when it's at its most schizophrenic."[4]

Mojo magazine, however, was more negative, stating that the band "aim for 'cryptic experimental pop' but hit 'pompous whimsy'" and that "the whole album is uncertain and unconvincing".[7]

Similarly, Pitchfork Media gave the record 4.8/10, referring to the songs as essentially "draining, elongated MOR tunes".

Commercial performance[edit]

An Awesome Wave entered the UK Albums Chart at number nineteen on sales of 6,720 copies.[11] After winning the Mercury Prize, the album reached a new peak position of number thirteen, selling 13,527 copies.[12] On 2 August 2013, the album was certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), denoting shipments in excess of 300,000 units in the UK.[13]

In Canada, the album debuted at number thirty on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling 1,800 copies.[14]

Singles[edit]

  • "Matilda"/"Fitzpleasure" was released as the lead single from the album on 24 February 2012. "Matilda" was re-released on 10 December 2012 following the band's Mercury Prize win.
  • "Breezeblocks" was released as the second single from the album on 18 May 2012.
  • "Tessellate" was released as the third single from the album on 13 July 2012.
  • "Something Good" was released as the fourth single from the album on 28 September 2012.
  • "Dissolve Me" was released as the fifth single from the album on 18 March 2013.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Joe Newman, Gus Unger-Hamilton, Gwilym Sainsbury and Thom Green. 

No. Title Length
1. "Intro"   2:37
2. " (Ripe & Ruin)"   1:12
3. "Tessellate"   3:02
4. "Breezeblocks"   3:47
5. "❦ (Guitar)"   1:17
6. "Something Good/Estocada"   3:38
7. "Dissolve Me"   3:59
8. "Matilda"   3:48
9. "Ms"   3:59
10. "Fitzpleasure"   3:39
11. "❦ (Piano)"   0:53
12. "Bloodflood"   4:09
13. "Taro"   5:05
14. "Hand-Made" (Hidden Track) 2:37

On CD, "Hand-Made" is on the same track as "Taro", separated by several minutes of silence. It is not on the vinyl, however is included as a hidden track within "Taro" when downloaded with the included download code.

Personnel[edit]

Credits for adapted from the liner notes of An Awesome Wave.[16]

  • Charlie Andrew – production
  • Dick Beetham – mastering
  • Mark Bishop – production ("Hand-Made")
  • European Space Agency – cover photo provider
  • Rachael Lander – cello ("Taro")
  • Kirsty Mangan – string arrangements (all tracks); violin ("Tessellate", "Taro")
  • St Ronan's Chamber Choir – additional vocals ("Bloodflood", "Taro")

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[43] Gold 35,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[13] Platinum 300,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format(s) Label
United Kingdom[44] 25 May 2012 Digital download Infectious Music
28 May 2012 CD, LP
United States[45] 18 September 2012 CD, LP, digital download Canvasback, Atlantic Records

References[edit]

  1. ^ "An awesome wave". European Space Agency. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "Ganges' dazzling delta". European Space Agency. 31 July 2009. Retrieved 2 March 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "An Awesome Wave – Alt-J". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 22 September 2012. 
  4. ^ a b O'Brien, Jon. Alt-J – An Awesome Wave > Review at AllMusic
  5. ^ a b Long, Jen (21 May 2012). "Review: Alt-J – An Awesome Wave". BBC Music. Retrieved 12 September 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Singleton, Ruth (26 June 2012). "Review: Alt-J – An Awesome Wave". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 12 September 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "Review: Alt-J – An Awesome Wave". Mojo (July 2012). p. 94. 
  8. ^ a b Baber, Andy. "Review: Alt-J – An Awesome Wave". MusicOMH. Retrieved 12 September 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Stevens, Jenny (25 May 2012). "Review: Alt-J – An Awesome Wave". NME. Retrieved 12 September 2012. 
  10. ^ Snapes, Laura (28 September 2012). "Review: Alt-J – An Awesome Wave". Pitchfork Media. 
  11. ^ Jones, Alan (3 June 2012). "Official Charts Analysis: Gary Barlow LP sells 40k". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  12. ^ Jones, Alan (5 November 2012). "Official Albums Chart Analysis: Adele's 21 leaves Top 30 after 92 weeks". Music Week. Intent Media. Retrieved 21 December 2012.  (subscription required)
  13. ^ a b "British album certifications – Alt-J – An Awesome Wave". British Phonographic Industry. 2 August 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2013.  Enter An Awesome Wave in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  14. ^ http://ajournalofmusicalthings.com/weekly-music-sales-report-analysis-02-october-2014/
  15. ^ "An Awesome Wave (Deluxe Version) by Alt-J (∆)". iTunes Store UK. Apple. Retrieved 10 December 2012. 
  16. ^ An Awesome Wave (CD liner notes). Alt-J. Infectious Music. 2012. INFECT134CD. 
  17. ^ "Alt-J – An Awesome Wave". australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  18. ^ "ARIA Dance – Week Commencing 11th February 2013". ARIA Charts. Pandora Archive. p. 17. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  19. ^ "Alt-J – An Awesome Wave" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  20. ^ "Alt-J – An Awesome Wave" (in French). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  21. ^ "Alt-J – An Awesome Wave". danishcharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  22. ^ "Alt-J – An Awesome Wave" (in Dutch). dutchcharts.nl. Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  23. ^ "Alt-J – An Awesome Wave" (in French). lescharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  24. ^ "Top 75 Artist Album, Week Ending 8 November 2012". Chart-Track. Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  25. ^ "Top 10 Independent Artist Albums, Week Ending 8 November 2012". Chart-Track. Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  26. ^ "Alt-J – An Awesome Wave". charts.org.nz. Hung Medien. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  27. ^ "2012 Top 40 Scottish Albums Archive". Official Charts Company. 10 November 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  28. ^ "Alt-J – An Awesome Wave". swisscharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 July 2012. 
  29. ^ "2012 Top 40 Official UK Albums Archive". Official Charts Company. 10 November 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  30. ^ "2012 Top 40 Independent Albums Archive". Official Charts Company. 17 November 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  31. ^ "Alt-J – Chart history: Billboard 200". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  32. ^ "Alt-J – Chart history: Alternative Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  33. ^ "Alt-J – Chart history: Top Rock Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  34. ^ "ARIA Charts – End Of Year Charts – Top 50 Dance Albums 2012". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  35. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 2012" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  36. ^ "ARIA Charts – End Of Year Charts – Top 100 Albums 2013". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  37. ^ "ARIA Charts – End Of Year Charts – Top 50 Dance Albums 2013". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  38. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 2013" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  39. ^ "Rapports Annuels 2013" (in French). Ultratop. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  40. ^ "2013 Year-End Charts – Billboard 200 Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 22 December 2013. 
  41. ^ "2013 Year-End Charts – Alternative Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  42. ^ "2013 Year-End Charts – Rock Albums". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 30 December 2013. 
  43. ^ "ARIA Albums Chart". ARIA Charts. 11 March 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  44. ^
  45. ^