Alex G (Domino, 2022)
Singer-songwriter Alex G (the G is short for Giannascoli), now 29, began his music career from his high school bedroom, self-releasing albums and EP records of lo-fi indie rock from 2010 to 2012. Although it wasn’t first released on Bandcamp and is Giannascoli’s first album wholly recorded in a professional studio, God Save the Animals still evokes the quirky introspection and DIY genre-bending that Giannascoli built his name on.
The tracks on God Save the Animals are a grab bag of influences and instruments. From the sing-along folk rock of “Runner” to the auto-tune-drenched croons of “Immunity” or the buzz saw synths of “Blessing,” Giannascoli weaves together a fascinating sonic hodgepodge.
Thematically, though, God Save the Animals is single-minded. Most lyrics dwell on innocence (“My teacher is a child / With a big smile,” from “No Bitterness”) and its loss (“I was asleep like a child / I walked the idiot mile,” from “Mission”). There are numerous personal demons at work here, and what Giannascoli seems to want most is to be done with the business of exorcising them, wondering, “How many more songs am I supposed to write / before I should turn it off and say goodnight” (“Miracles”).
If the subtle echoes of spirituality that surface throughout God Save the Animals are circling around anything, it seems to be kenosis, self-emptying, a desire to cast off the trauma and confusions of life for a kind of being that is simpler, more hopeful. The album’s vocals—here pitch-shifted, there auto-tuned, elsewhere sung by guest vocalists—seem to hint at this desire for self-abnegation: Any line could be sung by anyone, or no one, as Giannascoli’s “real” voice disappears. Giannascoli all but says it himself, when on “Blessing” he whispers, “Every day is a blessing / As I walk through the mud / If I live like the fishes / I will rise from the flood.”
This article also appears in the December 2022 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 87, No. 12, page 38). Click here to subscribe to the magazine.
Image: Alex G