The Religious Album Not About Religion: “God Save The Animals” by Alex G

In his ninth studio album, Alex G continues to contribute to the ongoing consistency within his discography while floating between genres and creating a spiritual atmosphere

Nic Smith, Contributing Writer

Even if you haven’t heard of Alex G, there’s a high chance you’ve heard his works in some capacity: through slowed and reverbed versions of his songs, such as “Treehouse” or “Mary,” on TikTok, guitar arrangements in multiple Frank Ocean songs off “Endless” and “Blonde,” on Jimmy Fallon or in the score of a recent indie horror film titled “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair.” His fan base is ever growing as he receives greater recognition for all his works new and old.

Alex G maintains his signature music style on “God Save the Animals,” but continues to improve his music at his own pace. He’s created all his music alone, until this release, where he enlisted the help of contributing producers at the studio. This change doesn’t go unnoticed- comparing his earliest album, Race, and even his 2019 album, “House of Sugar,” to “God Save the Animals” shows a definite step up in production value. 

A continuity of Alex G’s music is that it lies in a weird space between many genres. He incorporates elements of country, indie rock, electronic, hyperpop, folk and psychedelic rock on this project. On paper, it appears as if all these genres couldn’t coexist on a single LP, but they collaborate together in such a way that I find this challenging of musical convention refreshing, especially on subsequent listens, giving this album incredible replayability value. 

Songs like “Runner” and “Miracles” don’t deviate from a typical indie rock song too much, and ground the listener in the lyrical substance. Other songs, however, have a splash of eccentricity to them. For example, on  “No Bitterness” Alex G creates slight instrumental discordance through a quiet reversed piano line that floats in the background. These slight alterations to a well-established musical norm appear on almost every song, and the added twinge of experimentalism keeps it engaging but still accessible.

Alex G’s use of atypical vocals also transcend genre. He continues to use his distinct high-pitched vocal style in both the foreground and background of multiple tracks such as “After All,” but also experiments with other vocal alterations such as slightly robotic autotune, screams, whispers and wobbling modulations. Sometimes these vocal styles can be jarring or goofy, but I see how they are all a reasonable next step for his music and are utilized tastefully.

Thematically, “God Save the Animals” contains multitudes, but incorporates a lot of religious and spiritual concepts. For example, On “Mission” Alex G speaks from a missionary’s point of view, and “Cross the Sea” seems to be from the perspective of a religious savior. However, the clearest sign that Alex G isn’t taking the religious topic too seriously is in “S.D.O.S.” wherein he sings in a silly-sounding vocal effect, “God is my designer/Jesus is my lawyer” (lyrics that did make me laugh on a first listen). 

In an interview with Document Journal, on choosing the title of the album, Alex G stated, “The theme doesn’t necessarily reflect my personal beliefs, but it seemed like a thought-provoking idea to mess with.” The religious aspects of the album don’t end up being very genuine or satirical, they are simply there for us to listen to. I think the way he handles the religious theme is respectful, and I appreciate how he doesn’t take himself too seriously on this project.

Alex G is known for being a bit of a jokester in some of his lyrics (see “Whale” from his 2012 album, “Trick”), but he readily takes on more serious subject matter on “God Save the Animals.” 

The most mature song on the album, and perhaps one of his most mature songs to date, is “Ain’t It Easy.” I listened to this song on repeat for days after hearing the album for the first time due to its excellent chord structure and addictive vocal melodies, and it was and still is easily my favorite track on the album. However, on my second listen to this album, as I read along to the song with lyrics, I felt my eyes well up with tears as I read the tragic story of two lovers, formerly drug addicts, who attempt to get sober together, but the partner of the narrator fails and presumably passes away due to an accident or overdose.

Songs such as “Forgive” and “Miracles” also contain incredibly genuine lyrics about personal fears, drug abuse, mistakes, self-forgiveness, moving past the past and his investment into his career. 

Overall, “God Save the Animals” shows a newfound sense of maturity by Alex G through both musical and lyrical elements, while still not taking itself too seriously and challenging a traditional listening experience. This album is a must-listen for all Alex G fans, whether you prefer his older or newer projects, but also serves as a great introduction to his catalog for new listeners.

Alex G is currently on tour throughout the US, and will be nearby in Boston on November 8th and 9th. Tickets are sold out, but may be able to be found on resale.