(Sandy) Alex G
Rocket


4.5
superb

Review

by witheringbites USER (1 Reviews)
November 24th, 2017 | 112 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Alex G, name change aside, finds himself with his most mature album to date.

There is a balancing act when it comes to what is known as ‘ambiguity’ in writing, one that has to do with the capacity for audience comprehension. If an artist paints only in broad strokes, so to speak, the message of the image can never be truly communicated beyond its physicality, but if one never allows for the abstraction to do the communicating, and instead fills in every image with fine detail, there is less room for the audience to find themselves amid the art, the writing. Alex Giannascoli's great strength is found in his inherent understanding of this equilibrium in his lyrical craft. Beneath the veneer of experimental indie-rock music belies fine crafted poetry that tugs at Americana, songwriting that approaches subjects of power, abuse, love-and-loss, repression, and manhood. Giannascoli, who has often interwoven experience and adolescence throughout his songs both lyrically and sonically, finds himself in a place of his most mature craft and song writing yet. Between allowing collaboration more readily than he ever has before and writing on subjects with a new found confidence not apparent in his earlier works, the now “Sandy” Alex G develops his Rocket as an album that embraces both the abstract and the tangible, the impression and the personal.

Songs like “Bobby" and “Sportstar” demonstrate the development of this aspect of Giannascoli’s craft most evidently, with implications and images being tied to stories that sound both personal and distant. “Bobby” reflects on a complicated menage a trois of some order, and it conjures up succinct and salient images like, “He wakes me when he goes to work/His hands are cold/His breath is smoke” while never revealing its hand, blurring its narrative first person through the duet between Giannascoli and contemporary Emily Yacina.

“Sportstar”, meanwhile, approaches some kind of interplay between violence and romance, but it is left unclear whether the narrator allows, forgives, or encourages abuse, and whether it is status or idolization that motivates them (the line "Let me wear your jersey/If you want to hurt me, hurt me" working as a an example of this song's content). The warbling vocals, swamped in auto-tune and surrounded by a strangely danceable syncopation considering the lyrical content, further blur the very existence of the narrator, obscuring gender and name. The composition of these songs do little to solidify any thorough understanding of the album, and that represents the album at its best. Alex G seems unable to latch himself to a concept for too long, and that is ultimately a boon to the album, as he finds himself imitating the voices of youth, of men, of women, all without ever being anything other than Alex Giannascoli himself.

Instrumentally, Rocket is ambitious, with forays into back-porch Americana, abrasive and relentless noise-rock, bright folk, dark alternative, and cerebral and somber electronica. The album begins and ends at its most contemporarily recognizable, recalling previous works like Trick and DSU, albeit with richer orchestration and broader palate, a little more Woody Guthrie than he has allowed himself to be in the past. What essentially works as the album’s middle act, however, is much more overtly experimental, owing more to Beach Music than any of his other albums. The striking “Witch” presents his voice more dynamically than many other tracks on the album, invoking Miller’s “The Crucible” more than anything. “Brick”, meanwhile, finds itself with the honor of being the most overtly aggressive song on the album, embracing noise in a way Giannascoli has only flirted with in the past. This is his best album by a mile by way of mastering and development of sound, but some may ultimately find the mixed influences and genres to ultimately detract from the greater overall aesthetic embraces of Rocket.

In an interview with Stereogum after the album’s release, Alex Giannascoli confessed his own apprehension with applying meaning to his, or anyone’s, work, saying, “It’s this personal magic, and nobody realizes the reality of a song’s meaning or whatever is not gonna compare with that untouched story in your head. The reason you enjoy [music] is because of its unlimited potential, the inability to really understand it.” More than any of the meaningless ‘influences’ many reviews have recalled in reference to the album, this quote speaks true to Giannascoli’s intent and approach to composing and writing Rocket. This is music that does not offer resolution, or solace, only impressions and feelings, and the intention isn’t to answer but to ask, to open itself to its listeners. In this, the album is sterling. The sonic departure into experimental rock bookended by Americana may off-put some earlier fans, and the album’s inherently opaque approach to songwriting may have its detractors, but make no mistake - from idea to execution, Rocket succeeds, and succeeds hard.


user ratings (165)
3.7
great
related reviews

House Of Sugar

Beach Music

DSU
recommended by reviewer
Emily Yacina Heart Sky

Comments:Add a Comment 
Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
November 24th 2017


25089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

holy shit finally there’s a review for this

sixdegrees
November 24th 2017


7861 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sounds like more of the same shit from this guy

hal1ax
November 24th 2017


14301 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

was not pumped on this one



dsu and beach music are real good tho

sixdegrees
November 24th 2017


7861 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I liked "kicker" off his last album



wish he'd do more stuff like that, the lo fi/quirky shit is played out tbh

hal1ax
November 24th 2017


14301 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

agreed. i loveee serpent is lord from dsu. has kind of that downtrodden gaze feel in certain areas

witheringbites
November 24th 2017


2 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

If you're not sold on him as a musician I'd say it's different enough that it's worth listening to but not so different that it's likely to change opinions. It's most obviously similar to DSU. If you do like his earlier stuff but don't vibe with it that makes sense, it's more polished but also more backwoods, and so it ultimately isn't a real continuation of his familiar aesthetic, sans vocals.

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
November 24th 2017


3112 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Fantastic work, withering, this one definitely needed a review, and I love write-ups with this much analysis. I will say, though, I found this to be a tad over-long. Your expression can be a bit long-winded at times, and I think it would've been a bit more effective to have wrapped your analysis within a few set ideas. For instance, that was an excellent way to end the review, and I think your point regarding interpretation/messages could've been used to bookend the entire piece. Another approach perhaps would've been to stick with the idea of the album's dichotomies. It was a riveting read so I almost didn't notice, but you do change focus quite a bit. A couple of minor typos, too: "approaches some kind of interplay violence and romance", and "richer orchestration orchestration".

Overall excellent, excellent work, however. Keep it up.

Digging: Leonard Cohen - Thanks For The Dance

witheringbites
November 24th 2017


2 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Noticed the typos earlier, still figuring out the website. Just edited, though. Appreciate the feedback. I don't think I included anything that didn't need to be said, but I can't say this is succinct either - will probably tone down a bit in the future. Sticking to dichotomy would have made for a better, but honestly less informative review, wanted to avoid that.

DoofusWainwright
November 24th 2017


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Guess I'll give this another go

loveisamixtape
November 26th 2017


7923 Comments


surprisingly one of my most listened to albums of this year

nukethewhale
November 27th 2017


158 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

not sure how this is seen as more of the same. i never fully appreciated this until i went back and listened to his older stuff and realized how he had evolved on Rocket.

nukethewhale
November 27th 2017


158 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

i guess it's more of the same in the way that his overall songwriting ethos permeates throughout. but i think he takes his base approach and expands it into new territory in a very satisfactory way on this record.

loveisamixtape
November 27th 2017


7923 Comments


yea this is his best for sure

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
November 27th 2017


25089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

debatable, but it's definitely close

loveisamixtape
November 28th 2017


7923 Comments


every song is good and i usually have to skim thru his albums. unless it's trick

TheWrenKing
December 15th 2017


1696 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i'm so proud of yoooouuu, nd all the things you dooo o o o o

oodlesofnoodles
December 15th 2017


66 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

FINALLY



Great album, Powerful Man is such a good song

guitarded_chuck
December 15th 2017


18042 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is pretty damn good, surprised it doesnt even have 100 votes seems pretty sputcoreish

loveisamixtape
December 15th 2017


7923 Comments


judge and bobby are the besssst

DoofusWainwright
December 15th 2017


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this is acceptable sputcore



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy