Review Summary: Foreshadowing one of the best of our time
Most work days I fire up my music player and it defaults to playing RACE by (Sandy) Alex G. It is at the top because of the parentheses and it is the oldest thing I have from him. Most days I just let it play.
Everything is double tracked, none if it is very clean or polished in the way that his records would become, but it is produced meticulously with different textures sprinkled throughout. Alex G's lyrics have a dream-like quality to them that he seems to have been born with. This first entry is just as lyrically strong as his later ones. The melodies get stuck in your head and never seem to run out of mileage. The songs are interesting when listened to intently, but not demanding in any way. I wouldn't hesitate to put this on as background music in a social situation. Each song seems like a child's toy that has a demon drawn on the bottom of it that the parents didn't see when they bought it. Innocent at a glance, but spooky when examined deeply.
The xylophone in "Trash" seems playful and fun when you first hear it, but start to grow eerie as the melody seems to sour. The "OOooo" could be coming from a ghost. The leads on "Gnaw" drift around the acoustic guitar, wrestling the attention away, only to settle, as the lyrics come on stage. The offbeat, cheery piano lines the broken question "Are you really there?" in "Let it Go".
More experimental elements of Alex's style come out in tracks like the pitch shifted vocals in "Time/Space" and the layered instrumental "Cross Country". The album is as ambitious as it is charming.
The thing I thought when I heard this first album of his was: Alex was always going to end up writing music. Now I just wonder if he will ever be able to top this first one.