Alex G – ‘God Save The Animals’ review: nine albums in and at his shapeshifting best

The cult star's latest is delightfully idiosyncratic, and further confirms his place as one of his generation's most consistently brilliant songwriters

Willingly or not, the shy and fame-averse Philadelphia singer-songwriter Alex G has become a surprise star of indie rock across the last decade – to those that love him, he’s everything. At a recent solo show in London, he played a requests-only set that had fans screaming the title of obscure album tracks from records self-released on Bandcamp a decade ago, part of a superbly prolific period that served as the precursor to said stardom.

Since signing to Domino for 2015’s ‘Beach Music’, his releases have been slightly less fertile (though four albums in seven years is decent going for most artists, with ‘God Save The Animals’ being his ninth in total) but no less riveting. In this period, he’s flirted with jangly folk and Death Grips-esque noise on 2017’s ‘Rocket’, added fuel to the fire of persisting Elliott Smith comparisons with ‘Gretel’, a highlight from 2019’s ‘House Of Sugar’ LP, and released a soundtrack to horror film We’re All Going To The World’s Fair earlier this year.

With ‘God Save The Animals’, these genre-resistant idiosyncrasies remain, though a few moments shine through with newfound clarity and vulnerability. Across the diverse and consistently excellent 13-track record, he hops between styles, perspectives and energies with abandon.

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There are many Alex Gs that we meet across ‘God Save The Animals’, all with a different story, presentation and sonic identity. On opener ‘After All’, he muses on a life of impermanence with God its one constant, presented with layered, pitched up vocals – they come out sounding like a twisted version of angels, and surely not by accident. From there, the melodic and instantly addictive ‘Runner’ perfects his formula of off-kilter indie-rock before more curveballs follow.

On ‘No Bitterness’, AutoTuned backing vocals pepper the track, and in its mid-section they take on the cadence of a SoundCloud rapper. The same can be said for fantastic highlight ‘Cross The Sea’, with vocals once again drowned in AutoTune but backed by organic, earthy drums and plonks of piano – the juxtaposition is thrilling. Just minutes later on ‘Blessing’, he’s singing a duet with himself in a terrifying whisper. It’d be exhausting if it weren’t so consistently brilliant.

After an album of shapeshifting and drifting in and out of frame, it’s on ‘Miracles’ that we get a rare glimpse at a raw, vulnerable Alex G. The album’s penultimate track is a simple, tender folk song where his mangling of sounds melt away to leave an untouched gem. In its second verse, he addresses a partner: “You say one day that we should have a baby / Well, right now baby I’m struggling, we’ll see,” he responds. Then, repeating the question once again, he changes his mind, softly saying: “Well, God help me, I love you, I agree.”

Maybe it’s a quick peek into a romantic, uncomplicated future for Alex G, or simply a fleeting yet thrilling glimpse at the most tender part of an artist who is hard to pin down but impossible to take your eyes off.

Details

Alex G

  • Record label: Domino
  • Release date: September 23, 2022
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