by Myles Tiessen (@myles_tiessen)
To say that Alex G’s albums lean on the heavier side of electronic experimentation would be an understatement. Records like Trick and DSU casually incorporated understated skips, twists, beeps, and boops, and even among the honkiest moments on Rocket were tripped-out electronic squeals and pitch-shifted vocals. 2019s House of Sugar was a magnificent deep dive into the domineering world of tech manipulation with the unnerving “Project 2” and “Bad Man,” each as deranged as they were beautiful, showcasing his effortless ability to collide the simulated with the sincere.
Alex G is full of questions God Save The Animals but intentionally avoids easy answers. It’s a record filled with anxiety but finds solace in the fractured nature of change. It’s a record with a whole lot of references to God but finds sanctification in the chaos rather than the structure of religion. It’s a record where God works as a placeholder term to describe how he copes with the uncertainty of life, morality, and just how necessary it is to have faith in something. After all, how else do you define the undefinable?
That being said, God Save The Animals doesn’t shy away from the ecclesial. Opener “After All” is a contemplative hymn with Alex Giannascoli repeating the mantra, “After all people come and people go away/ Yeah, but God with me he stayed.” Through layers of haunting processed vocals, Giannascoli wrestles with the changes in his life that have undoubtedly emerged since his rise as an indie all-star. “Were you young when you lost innocence? / Did the world feel so unkind? / Well, the years have passed, and I can say that love will come in time.”
Linked together in the middle of the record are “Cross The Sea” and “Blessing,” songs that traverse into Giannascoli’s penchant for the inorganic. “Cross the Sea” features brilliantly choreographed layers of heavily processed vocals, and at a certain point, it becomes hard to tell where Giannascoli’s vocals end and the computer takes over. The impressionistic R&B melody feels like this is his version of a contemporary pop song, but as it comes to a close, the song transforms into a fucked up, dismantled version of itself. An eerie synthesizer carries us into the next, equally bizarre, and extraordinary track.
The deranged cacophony of sound on “Blessing” is genuinely euphoric. Together, the intensity of the guitar and synthesizer makes the song sound like it was mastered in a nuclear power plant, while the drums energetically maintain the track’s racing heartbeat. Hidden in the violence, Giannascoli whispers a self-reminder, “Every day is a blessing/As I walk through the mud/If I live like the fishes/I will rise from the flood.”
There are moments in God Save The Animals where Alex G appears more free than ever before. Maybe it’s his earnestness in his voice, or perhaps it’s the lyrics, but Giannascoli clearly is finding some form of resolution in all of this, unburdening himself from the circumstances of this material world. The continual abandonment of all certainty, lyrically and musically, makes God Save The Animals so incredibly spellbinding.