A band’s second album is a big hurdle, I dare to say. Especially when the debut album has rocked the reviews and created a major fan base, expectations for the next albums are high. Many bands simply don’t make it. The second album is what makes a good band a great band. The xx, for example, did not make it. Nothing’s lost yet, but you know.
The expectations, generally, are mixed. We loved that first album. We know the words to all the songs, we have danced to the remixes and we want something similar. We want an album just like this. But also not. We also want something different, we want the band to evolve, grow.
Alt-J has done it. Their new album is similar enough to remind us that we love them, but they were brave enough to go further. “Left Hand Free” is perfect proof of that.