Portico Quartet is no more. Portico is all that remains. The jazz is gone, too, as the band have taken the electronic inferences of their last record and made them the focus of new LP Living Fields.
Predictably, the internet is furious. "They changed from such a unique band into something so indistinct! Waaaahh! Did you know they've enlisted singers for their new album?! Some of whom are p-p-p-POPULAR?! Waaahh!"
Whatever. If they're forcing themselves to challenge each other and to challenge the way that they make music, I'm all for it. Even if that results in complete reinvention. Portico Quartet was wonderful, don't get me wrong, but this feels more soulful and more natural than that previous work, despite the comparative lack of acoustic instrumentation.
I'm talking about the new album in this instance, but everything above is equally applicable to '101,' featuring alt-J's Joe Newman. Where Portico Quartet would sometimes feel cluttered and a little fussy, this is like a long exhale, full of relief and free from burden. Newman's percussive delivery is a perfect complement, too, finding a space within the rhythm and offering a neatly unsettling counterpoint to the music's mood. Plus, just look at that video. Isn't it wonderful?
It's already made my day better, and I haven't even got up yet.