Alt-J announce first album in four years, The Dream, share euphoric lead single, U&ME

Joe Newman of Alt-J performing live
(Image credit: Andrew Benge/Redferns via Getty)

British indie rockers Alt-J have announced their fourth studio album The Dream – due February 22 – and shared the album’s easy-going lead single, U&ME.

It’s the band’s first new musical offering in four years, since the release of 2017’s Relaxer, with the Mercury Prize-winning group seemingly returning to the guitar-driven sonic direction that informed the band’s first two albums – An Awesome Wave (2012) and This Is All Yours (2014).

As opposed to the majority of Relaxer, which toned down the electric guitar riffs, U&ME has the six-string touching almost everything, including the intro’s tremolo-tinged motif and the gain-y lead decorations.

Of course, it’s an Alt-J track, meaning there’s a boatload of intriguing production going on, including the layered vocal harmonies, and square-wave synth stabs, though the track – described as the band’s “most honest song to date” – leaves plenty of room for the guitar to flourish.

On how the track came about, guitarist/vocalist Joe Newman revealed it was pieced together during various soundchecks, and said, “It gathered momentum on its own, it was best to just get out of its way. We were just there.”

The easy-listening nature of the track is a direct reflection of its meaning, with keys player Gus Unger-Hamilton saying the song “is about being at a festival with your best friends, having a good time, togetherness, and the feeling in life that nothing could be any better than it is right now”.

Drummer Thom Sonny Green completes the Alt-J lineup, with U&ME also featuring the band’s long-time collaborator and producer, Charlie Andrew.

Alt-J The Dream album cover

(Image credit: Press)

Said to explore a mixture of true-crime-inspired stories and tales from Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont, as well as a number of personally charged moments, The Dream promises unparalleled experimentation and a mature continuation of the band's "dazzling instrumentation".

The accompanying music video, which you can check out above, was directed by Unger-Hamilton’s brother Gus, and marks the first time the band have all appeared together in one of their music videos.

Coinciding with the news is the announcement of a 31-city headline tour of the US, which is set to kick off on February 25 next year. A full list of dates and ticket registration links can be found on the tour's official website.

  • The Dream is available to preorder now via Canvasback / Infectious Music.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.