Alex G Has Let The Sun In
by Colin Doherty
With imaginary friends, insoluble angst, and an ability to create abstract worlds, Alex Giannascoli, who performs as Alex G, has always written his songs with the heart of a kid. “My teacher is a child/With a big smile/No bitterness,” the Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter carols on his ninth record, God Save The Animals. Here we find Giannascoli in full bloom, saying farewell to the regret and inexplicable nihilism that lived in the roots of his previous records. “Were you young when you lost innocence?/Did the world feel so unkind?/Well the years have passed and I can say/That a love will come in time,” Giannascoli writes on the record’s opener, “After All”.
Regardless of this being his ninth record (not including the dozens of fan-made bootleg compilations of unreleased material), Giannascoli is only 29 years old, though at this point, he has joined the Mount Rushmore of 2010’s indie darlings. Starting out as an early adopter of making music “bedroom-pop” style (writing and recording a song through the resources provided by your laptop and releasing it through platforms like Soundcloud or Bandcamp), his records have expanded over the last decade, with God Save The Animals being the first of his recorded solely in a professional studio.
Maybe that explains why this is by far the most pop-sounding record Alex G has released yet, with singles like “Runner”, which totally riffs on Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train”, and “Blessing”, which is reminiscent of the whispery alt-grunge of the 90’s. Either way, it seems consistent with the record’s songwriting which has taken a lighter turn compared to the wicked that bled in earlier songs like “Kute” or “Pretend” which both compare an undying love to the felonies (murder, kidnapping, ya know, the romantic felonies) he could commit for them.
Instead of writing abstract songs about kidnapping crushes and nuclear holocausts, Giannascoli turns to reality, relishing in the openness of everyday life and finding his own peace along the way. “You say one day that we should have a baby, well/Right now, baby, I'm struggling, we'll see,” the narrator on “Miracles” so beautifully sings, “You say one day we should have a baby, well/God help me, I love you, I agree.” If Alex G’s Bandcamp records lived in his bedroom, sulking in the desperation and anarchy of being a kid, God Save The Animals exists outside, sitting under the sun and watching the wind pass by.
This isn’t to say the general themes of Alex G have completely changed. He is still writing songs about animals and getting too high, except instead of telling those stories through the lens of abstract characters and far-reaching concepts, these songs are rooted in reality and the act of discovering maturity, something all previous Alex G songs were always incapable of. In the past, he was a source to go to when you needed to sulk in the madness of the world, and now he may be the guy to go to when you want to appreciate that madness. Alex G has comfortably found a place in both his world and ours, and by doing so, he has made his strongest piece yet.
God Save The Animals is out now.