Album Review: Alex G – God Save the Animals

By Rocco Prioletti, Contributor
[Domino Recording Co; 2022]
Rating: 6/10

Key tracks: “Mission,” “Ain’t it Easy,” “Miracles”

Predictability is a vice dreaded by most every creative individual. The fear of succumbing to a seemingly predestined path, to not exceed expectations. Given the now nine full-length records, alongside a vast plethora of loose unreleased hits, Alex G has remained unscathed by the claws of predictability. From the first moments of lead single “Blessing”, all expectations of a folk-adjacent follow-up were blown completely out of the water. We’re unexpectedly presented with the grating growl of an exceptionally dated synthesizer, along with Giannascoli’s almost Criss Angel-like attire in its accompanying music video.

Read more: Album Review: Tough Baby – Crack Cloud

God Save the Animals follows in this same vein, pouring out Alex’s mixed bag of contrasting influences and interests, like, for example, the bouts of pitch-shifted hyperpop worship that linger throughout the runtime. The opening track, “After All” perfectly establishes the record’s thematic tensions, blending his more folk oriented sound with the new screeching blips of pop sugar. However, I feel as though these sections fall short, especially when compared to 2017’s “Sportstar” which once stood as Giannascoli’s most blatant display of this. 

The track, “S.D.O.S” awkwardly meanders along a low wavering tremolo vocal, only to be interrupted by some out of place lyrics that could’ve easily fit within Bladee and Ecco2k’s latest spiritual venture, Crest: “God is my designer / Jesus is my lawyer / Curled up in the shower / High above the tower”. The track that follows, “No Bitterness” picks up the scattered pieces of its former and deconstructs an off-kilter drumbeat into one of Giannascoli’s most hard-hitting moments; right alongside Rocket’s “Brick”. “No Bitterness” is absolutely Alex’s best interpretation of electronica to date. But, even after the previously listed songs, “Cross the Sea” has to be Alex’s most unexpected tracks, putting his autotuned “Yuh’s”, he had carefully sprinkled throughout the entire record, to its absolute forefront. The song remains as one of my least favorites of his catalog, never capturing my interest lyrically nor sonically.

Alex continues to tout his singer-songwriter capabilities throughout, although tracks like “Early Morning Waiting”  tread old territory, not bringing anything new to the table. “Mission” is easily my favorite on the record, showcasing some of Alex’s best vocal performances of his entire career. The second and third verses have Giannascoli steadily sending his words to a higher power, harmonizing with himself in a higher register. And though God Save the Animals is a record drenched in hope and optimism, this track puts it in a different light. It’s a desperate longing, the feelings of a missionary nearing the end of their life. “Ain’t it Easy” follows thematically, offering a tongue-and-cheek viewpoint when discussing the hardships of sobriety. In these tracks, Alex dresses hope in a melancholic getup, draped within layers of warm and lonely instrumentation.

It’s entirely evident that Alex G made the conscious decision to remain rather simple and sparse lyrically on this project. In comparison to songs from years past, God Save the Animals feels more like a word cloud of ideas rather than an in-depth portrait into a character’s life, seen on tracks like Trick’s “Adam”. “Miracles” deals with the contemplation that would only result when one has released material for upwards of twelve years. Through beautifully twanged guitars and violins, he passionately sings: “How many more songs am I supposed to write? / Before I should turn it off and say goodnight”. It is wonderfully honest, and an endearing testament to his endless songwriting capabilities.

Not a day passes where methodical artists aren’t bombarded with an expectation to supply listeners with yet another creative endeavor; feeling as though they are personally owed another release. If Alex were to settle down and raise a child, as he lovingly sings on this track, would the public still yearn for yet another release; even though he’s said what he’s needed to say? I’m glad that this record reads as an energetic and personal outlet for Giannascoli. His ability to both be unabashedly silly and reflective is a testament of never taking his craft too seriously.

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