“A record of isolated worlds”: Inside Alex G.’s ‘God Save The Animals’

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Which brings us to God Save The Animals, an album that, in many ways, brings together the disparate parts of Giannascoli’s discography to this point, creating a record of isolated worlds, formed and shaped by its mad-scientist creator. There are beautiful, idyllic songs, like the nursery-rhyme, voice-pitched opener “After All,” and then there are songs like “SDOS,” which spins the dial in the opposite direction, equally entrancing but constructed of entirely different materials. If you have followed Alex G. from his Bandcamp days, through his (SANDY) Alex G phase, and into now, you’ve probably become accustomed to this kind of variation. Audience expectation can play such a big part into how fans engage with an artist, reacting against what they want sometimes more than the artist themselves, but for Alex G fans, the expectations have to become a lack thereof. You love the Spotify-formula hit “Sarah”? Well here is something completely and utterly different.

Looking through the many profiles and Q&As Giannascoli has done throughout his career, there seems to be one thing that always bubbles to the surface, a standard he seems to hold for his music, a goal that sounds as difficult to correlate as his unique style. “I’m trying to capture a feeling more immediately,” he told Pitchfork during an interview previewing the release of God Save The Animals. “I’m trying to depict the thing physically as opposed to just saying the words and hoping the listener will come around to the image.” One of his pervasive strategies to accomplish this has been vocal modulation. Whether it’s the high-pitched, almost boyish modulation on “Brite Boy” or the twangy autotune of “Bad Man,” he has found as much creative inspiration in these clever little tricks than in any one instrument. Unsurprisingly, it’s something Giannascoli returns to again and again God Save The Animals, warping not only the sound of the songs themselves but the perspective from which he arrives at his stories or burnouts, dreamers, and castouts.

But even the stories themselves are far from straightforward. A song like “Mission” may start with the line, “I’ve run the whole world round, too late to slow down now” — seemingly a reference to Giannascoli’s life as a touring artist — only to be interrupted later by a second voice. , intent to chime in with harsh reminders. “Hey, look in the mirror, ain’t gonna right your wrong with a stupid love song.” Some songs are so spare as to contain on a line or two, like “No Bitterness,” but remain just as cryptic all the same. “There are lots of different voices, but they’re not exactly fully-formed characters,” Giannascoli told GQ around the release of 2019’s House Of Sugar. “I think the beauty of it is that it’s like a Rorschach inkblot.”

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