God Save The Animals has a toucan on the cover – and it only gets better

Alex G

God Save The Animals

Domino • September 23, 2022

In one far-flung corner of YouTube’s dark and winding databases, there lies a video of a teenage boy playing an original song titled “BE KIND” on guitar. His pitched, sorrowful voice echoes through the dusty staircase he hunches upon, his eyes covered by his long, mopped hair, arms adorned with a large black sweatshirt to match. The song is a haunting combination of painful lyrics and extended guitar interludes. The comment section of the video is split into two camps – those begging for the boy to release sheet music or a guide on how to play the song, and those marveling at how talented this musician is for scores of grown adults to be clamoring for instructions to a song that he wrote as a teenager. The description of the video offers little reprieve to those inquirers, only saying “Alex Giannascoli guitar style.”

Today, the boy in the video is better known by his abbreviated stage name, Alex G. While “BE KIND” was never officially released, Giannascoli soon found himself incredibly busy in the music world soon after the video’s release, gaining online notoriety for the self-published music he would post on Bandcamp and other music forums. Set apart from the competition by his very, very lo-fi approach to recording within the indie rock/pop/folk sound, Giannascoli was creating sounds that felt like sinking into a murky leaf-filled pool. His sound and musical vision have always been prone to change, apparent in his sonic experimentation on 2019’s House of Sugar – but Alex G has always felt like a very consistent artist, delivering eight albums chock full of beautiful music. Despite the fact that his September 2022 release God Save The Animals is a rollercoaster ride of abrupt shifts in lyrical content and bizarre genre combinations, it’s undoubtedly an Alex G classic: an amalgamation of all of the things that make music so cool.

When giving God Save The Animals a spin for the first time, there are many things that immediately strike the listener, but the heavy religious themes are the most attention-grabbing. Despite stating on the record that he isn’t a religious person, Alex G filled God Save The Animals with enough love for God to make a pastor blush. While some of it is more overt, such as the album title or lines like “God is my designer / Jesus is my lawyer,” much of it is subtle, with Genius.com commenters revealing seemingly casual lines to be almost direct adaptations of Bible verses left and right. Assuming that these songs aren’t actually about how much Alex G loves God, since he doesn’t believe in one, it’s easy to theorize that the God Giannascoli sings about is a person close to him, from whom he finds great guidance and inspiration. It might even just be the concept of such a person. Either explanation fits into a compelling narrative of character development through his music. Earlier albums such as Trick are filled with lyrics detailing deep melancholy and unrest (notably “Animals”), but the gorgeous lyrics on God Save The Animals contain feelings of love, gratefulness, and guidance. 

As opposed to more sparsely orchestrated albums such as Race or Trick, Alex G makes full use of the opportunities that a studio budget and brief TikTok fame bring, incorporating banjos, string arrangements, choirs, pianos, and most importantly, lots of guitars. While a lesser conductor might allow such an assortment to fall into cacophony, Giannascoli manages to create a sound that evades any one genre label. Twangy bluegrass guitars, beautiful piano lines, trap drums, indie vocals – the album is innovative while still maintaining the classic Alex G sound on songs like “Runner,” “Ain’t It Easy,” and “Miracles.” Other songs, such as “No Bitterness” and the unbelievable beauty that is “Cross the Sea,” see Giannascoli exploring entirely new genres and production styles, not just to him, but to the world. While the first half of “No Bitterness” sounds like a natural progression from the sound he was experimenting with in House of Sugar, the second half rapidly transitions into a hyperpop sequence, complete with swirling modulated vocals, distorted drums, and a sick bass drop. On the other hand, “Cross the Sea” genuinely sounds like a Drain Gang song, filled with autotuned Yeah, yeah, yeahs and a dreamy background sequence straight out of a video game epilogue. Freaky, weird, and awesome.

Alex G changed his name to (Sandy) Alex G in 2017 for fears that another popular musician named Alex G would take legal action against him. Yet just a few years later, he had rocketed to such fame that it was no longer necessary. While this was certainly good news for his label’s legal team, the question remains to be answered as to how Giannascoli himself feels about fame, especially when some of it was accrued through popularity on the children’s dancing app TikTok. As an artist who flourished under the soft LED glows of the Philly underground music scene, Giannascoli seems to be frustrated with of his fandom, drunkenly refusing to play his popular songs at shows and remarking on “Miracles,” “How many more songs am I supposed to write / Before I can turn it off and say goodnight?” Despite having been releasing music for almost ten years straight now, Alex G has yet to waver in the quality of his music or innovation – the only roadblock on the horizon seems to be how much longer he’s willing to go for.


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