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alt-J On World Cafe

alt-J's new album, <em>Relaxer</em>, is out now.
Gabriel Green
Courtesy of the artist
alt-J's new album, Relaxer, is out now.

When it comes to today's guests, mystery is the name of the game. The band's name is the symbol of a triangle. It's pronounced alt-J. You won't find pictures of the three stars of the band very many places — certainly not on the cover of its new record, which features a drawing of an anonymous red body on the side of a highway. And not in the music video for the album's first single, which stars a scurrying wood mouse.

alt-J's sound is just as hard to pin down as the members themselves. It's somewhere between folk and electronica, the words sometimes poetry, sometimes prose — and often hard to understand, so alt-J clears up some misheard-lyric gems in this session.

We also talk about the impostor syndrome the band felt when its 2012 debut album, An Awesome Wave, went platinum and won the U.K.'s prestigious Mercury Prize. You'll learn why the members of alt-J feel more comfortable being recognized in the U.S. than at home in the U.K., and hear performances of songs from the band's new album, Relaxer. Hear the complete session, recorded when the band stopped by World Cafe in April, in the player above.

Copyright 2021 XPN. To see more, visit XPN.

Talia Schlanger hosts World Cafe, which is distributed by NPR and produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. She got her start in broadcasting at the CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster. She hosted CBC Radio 2 Weekend Mornings on radio and was the on-camera host for two seasons of the television series CBC Music: Backstage, as well as several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor. Schlanger also guest hosted various flagship shows on CBC Radio One, including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Schlanger also won a Canadian Screen Award as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip.