“It was this song ‘Like a Stone’ by Audioslave,” Alex said. “It came on the radio one night and I was like, ‘What the …? This is the best thing I’ve ever heard!’”
“Blessing” is an outlier sonically, though not thematically, on the new album. Its title included, “God Save the Animals” riffs on religious imagery and sometimes even evokes a kind of funhouse-mirror Christianity (“God is my designer,” a surreal, helium-voiced Alex sings on one song, “Jesus is my lawyer”). Though Alex wasn’t raised in a religious household, he admits that spirituality has been on his mind these past few years, and that some of the songs likely sprang from that part of his subconscious. “I don’t really have a set of beliefs,” he said, “but it seems like a place everyone has to go at some point.”
Even if Alex’s music has never felt especially spiritual, there has long been a recurring sense of morality in it. Terrible things happen in and around the margins of his songs — nuclear bombs; fentanyl overdoses; bottomless longing — but never without the possibility of renewal and carrying on.
Similarly, one of the most stirring moments on the new album comes in the middle of “Runner,” which until then has been a mild-mannered lite-rocker in the vein of Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train.” “I have done a couple bad things,” Alex sings in a pleasant voice, and then repeats the line several times, his voice becoming increasingly anguished until it turns into a bloodcurdling scream. It’s a gaping rupture in the song, but just as casually, it continues on.
That it sounds nothing quite like anything he’s released before goes without saying — as does the fact that it’s still somehow so Alex G. “When I’m thinking of a song,” he said, “it’s not like, ‘This would be a great ‘me’ song. I’m just like, ‘This would be a cool song.’”
“And so it sounds like me because I don’t know what I’m doing,” he added, his laughter rising against the wind. “But I’m pursuing it as far as I can go.”
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