Album Review: Alex G, God Save The Animals

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The lore of Alex G gains another complex chapter with the release of God Save The Animals.

Alex Giannascoli is an enigma. Making music since 2010 under the alias Alex G, the Philadelphia-born indie artist has attracted a cult-like following, complete with a subreddit of over 13,000 people who refer to him as “G man” and “Mr. Alex”.

His music is traceable to the likes of artists like Elliot Smith and Bright Eyes, while simultaneously incomparable to any other artist or genre at all. The 29-year-old Pennsylvania native has an irreplaceable talent of vocal and musical shape-shifting, which shines particularly strong in his textured new album. God Save The Animals.

God Save The Animals is Giannascoli’s ninth full-length album, and his most experimental use of sound yet. In his last album, House of Sugar (2019), Giannascoli sticks to a melancholy, indie croon with a threateningly experimental middle. While God Save The Animals follows the same structure, it pushes the boundaries of Alex G’s signature sound in the most outlandish ways that somehow still sound unapologetically Alex G.

It marks the first project of Giannascoli’s that was produced in a major studio, making his jumbled thought process all the more clear within the sound and lyrics. Listening through the album, it’s as if all the songs are made by a different artist; Through hyper-pop and folk, ’90s metal to Christian rock, Giannascoli explores it all and jumps from genre to genre completely seamlessly. It’s fragmented, but in a way that makes perfect sense to the fans that understand his logic.

Giannascoli is no stranger to taking on characters. From transforming himself into a self-conscious teenage girl in songs like ‘Sarah’ and ‘Sandy’ to a cowboy that survived a nuclear bomb in ‘Bad Man’, to having an in-depth discussion about the love between pets and owners in songs. such as ‘Harvey’, Giannascoli slowly but surely creates his own world of personas through his music. God Save The Animals is no different. Throughout 13 tracks, Giannascoli fills his lyrics with eccentric spiritual anecdotes and biblical references, along with a quiet but ever-present theme of pets that peaks in between the stitches.

In ‘Blessing’, sinister synths and electric guitar support Giannascoli’s raspy whisper as he repeats:Every day is a blessing… if I live like the fishes I will rise from the flood“. Emanating the likes of a Christian rock band, the repetitive lyrics give the slight inkling of a Noah’s ark reference. In contrast, Giannskoli combines melancholy piano with a haunting chant in ‘SDOS’ before entering with a high pitched autotune, “God is my designer/ Jesus is my lawyer/ Curled up in the shower/ High above the towerIt’s unclear whether or not faith has been a driving force for God Save The Animals or if this could be yet another character of Giannascoli’s pretend world.

While God Save The Animals doesn’t name any specific pets like Trick or DSU, Giannascoli manages to sneak in some imagery of man’s best friend in tracks such as ‘Runner’, the stunning single compiling a story about a blindly devoted character that painfully recalls “They hit you with the rolled up magazine”, forcing listeners to think about the cruelty pets are often subjected to despite the unconditional love they give their owners. Another example of this pet motif and the power of devotion that dogs have for their humans despite all odds can be recognized on ‘Mission’; the hopeful narrator recites “I did good, I stayed out of the kitchen”, as if he’s a mindlessly dedicated pet bartering for praise. In a way, it is another form of the godlike faith that Giannascoli is personifying.

God Save The Animals brings attention to everything – from youth to a generalized sense of faith that keeps the narrator going, to the question of having a family and putting cocaine in the vaccine to gain immunity, Giannascoli sweeps across a plethora of emotions in a mere 40 minutes. This album feels like a mystery gift box, full of odd story lines that are meant to be deconstructed and interpreted in vastly different ways. It is without a doubt the most hopeful, positive album in the Alex G universe, and proves to us that maybe it’s time to have a little more faith ourselves.

Out now via Domino Records.

8/10

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