“God Save the Animals” Album Review


Illustration by Alexa Chang

An illustration depicts the cover of Alex G.’s latest album, “God Save the Animals.” The album was released Sept. 23.

Harry Tarses

I don’t trust Alex G. Not because he rarely speaks in public, or frequently writes from the perspective of manipulative people, or at all because I dislike his music. On the contrary, I love his music – more than almost any other music in the world, in fact – but I don’t understand it, and generally I think we mistrust the things we don’t understand. Every time I queue up a new Alex G song, I clench up subconsciously. The way I’ve come to view his music, and the things it makes me feel so intensely –– loss, love, nostalgia for some unknown past –– seem magical, otherworldly. How, then, can I confidently believe that this decidedly earthly man is actually able to make this stuff, rather than just constantly stumble on it by accident? His chord changes are too precise, his vocal patterns too purposeful, his seeming connection to my inner psyche too pure. I just can’t accept that one artist can actually hold all that power, so instead, I get this creeping feeling that my love for this man and the quality of his art is about to fall violently off the rails. Still, every time he releases new music, I’m proven wrong. His latest album, God Save the Animals (GTSA), is no exception.

Since he was 17, Alex G has been writing and producing music at a shocking rate. His style is almost indescribable to someone who’s never heard him before, but here’s an attempt: fairy-tale folk pop. Or at least that’s true for some of his songs. The truth is that Alex G is not a musician who can be easily relegated to one genre or style. Up until and including this album, his 9th, he has shifted frequently and effortlessly between tones and techniques, all while remaining astonishingly distinct in his sound and style; fanning out but never losing touch with the enchanted feeling at the center of it all.

This fanning out can be felt in completely new ways with GSTA. For much of the album, Alex G’s distinct, untrained voice is heavily warped by auto-tune, rendering the blunt, deeply personal lyrics he sings alien-like and liquid-textured on songs like S.D.O.S. and Headroom Piano, or brutish and sinister on Blessing, or raw and seemingly verging on tears in album highlight Forgive.

For all the jarring changes, which are welcome despite their abruptness and intensity, GSTA still feels like a completely natural evolution for Alex G. His lyrics no longer chronicle the strange, idiosyncratic stories he leaned towards in his early career, but instead indicate a maturing artist deeply examining his own morals, spirituality and musical process as a whole. Part of me misses the days when he would write as a character completely separate from himself, but it’s heartwarming to see him take to introspection and self-growth. And sonically, he’s weirder than he’s ever been, so I like to think he’s created a nice balance. His keys are wonkier, his guitars more screeching, and yet in all the chaos he demonstrates a calmness and control only he could really hope to manage.

Even with this glistening new addition to his discography, I still don’t trust Alex G. However, I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that at least for now he has maintained his status as one of the most genre-defining, self-assured musicians of his generation. And if my unfounded gut feeling somehow proves accurate, and Alex G really is destined to fall someday, then I think we all owe it to ourselves to appreciate the heights he’s reached right now.