This past September, Philadelphia-based lo-fi folktronica artist Alex G released his 10th studio album, “God Save The Animals.” Prior to the full release of the album, four of the 13 songs were released as an EP titled, “Miracles”. Even with the early release of nearly a third of the tracks on the full album, fans didn’t exactly see where Alex was headed stylistically.
Surprisingly, Alex G put out his cleanest-sounding, most cohesive project yet. “God Save the Animals” still holds true to Alex’s frequent lo-fi style, but this time it sounds much more professionally recorded. In an interview with Pitchfork, Alex stated that he “would just call different studios the day of and see which one was available,” where his prior work was mostly just made through GarageBand in his bedroom.
The songwriting on this album is notably sharp. A majority of “God Save The Animals” tackles subjects like religion or submitting to a higher power, which hasn’t totally been seen by Alex up until this point. He uses lots of symbolism to refer to a god, like on the song “Runner” where he refers to this ‘runner’ figure as someone he looks up to and someone who doesn’t judge him unfairly. He finds a good balance of referring to a god with symbolism and being blatant with his references, such as on “After All,” with the repeated chorus: “After all, people come and people go away, but God with me he stayed.”
As for the music on this album, Alex is still as good as ever. One song that particularly stands out is “Blessing”, where Alex whispers vocals over this practically eerie guitar riff. About midway through the song, a synth drone explodes into the track for a short period, then it returns to the previous structure. It’s relatively post-punk with how abstract the actual structure of the song is, and meanwhile the sound is one of Alex’s hardest yet.
Another stand-out track is “No Bitterness”, where Alex at first is calmly singing about a teacher -probably another religious reference- over a soft drum beat and piano. Anxiety begins to build up musically, and the track transforms into a 100 Gecs-esque hyperpop banger. Alex takes use of autotune and sort of sing-raps over this hyperpop beat, and, even more surprisingly, it actually works.
Sadly, there are undoubtedly some low points in this album. The third and fourth tracks, “Mission” and “S.D.O.S.”, really don’t serve much of a purpose in the tracklist other than being some dragged out, premature intermissions. “Mission” has some interesting songwriting, with Alex talking about sticking to a mission given to him by what is obviously his god. “S.D.O.S.” serves as much more of a traditional intermission, with it mostly being an instrumental. The instrumental sounds hopeful, and of course with “No Bitterness” following this track, it should be. There are some spoken vocals in this track as well, with a heavily distorted voice repeating the phrase, “Naked in my innocence, Tangled in my innocence,” for the first minute or so. Alex returns later in the song, singing, “God is my designer,” while being drenched in autotune. While nothing is inherently awful about either of these songs, they’re just some unneeded filler tracks.
“Cross the Sea” is a point where Alex may have gotten too ambitious. He again takes heavy use of autotune, and it just doesn’t really work. The song consists of soft guitar, with Alex repeating, “I crossed the sea, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah yeah,” along with some other phrases for nearly three and a half minutes. Unfortunately, the vocals get irritating quickly.
While the overall quality of the album drops from the intense highs of “Blessings” almost instantly after the track is finished, there are still some highlights in the latter half. “Immunity” takes a softer use of autotune and, again, has some excellent songwriting. “Miracles” sounds like something that could’ve come off the recent Big Thief album, with a twangy instrumental and a much more raw-sounding vocal approach. “Forgive” is also a satisfying closer to the album, with an outro that is honestly beautiful with its use of electric guitar.
While Alex has clearly grown as an artist since the days of songs like “Sarah” or “Gnaw”, he still has a long way to go before perfecting an album like “God Save The Animals.” While this album has its rough patches, notably with “Mission”, many stand-out tracks show that Alex is not even close to being done after over 10 years in the alternative scene.
Sonny DeFilippo can be contacted at