The Gods Themselves – Be My Animal
You haven’t heard anything like this out of the mainstream in ages, that’s for sure. Even a newcomer to this band is going to finish listening to it feeling like they’ve heard something challenging and new for the first time in years. The Gods Themselves, a Seattle band unlike anything you associate with the city, have technique to burn, but all the technique in the world doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t back it up with imagination and inspiration. The Gods Themselves are on their third album with the upcoming release of Be My Animal and their creative train shows no signs of slowing down or losing steam. Instead, the nine songs on this album makes use of influences self-appointed cultural observers have long since deemed dead, like New Wave or disco, brings an art-rock or alternative rock structure to the songs, and plays with a hard-nosed punk spirit that resists tidy categorization.
They’re ready to be unusual from the first song. Anytime a band starts off an album with the title song, you can be reasonably sure that you’re in good hands. “Be My Animal” starts off a little artsy and restrained, but it’s soon kicking in doors and percolating at a catchy clip with Astra Elane and Dustin Patterson’s guitar work trading off lines over Collin O’Meara’s hard hitting percussion. There are some subtle and slightly extended tempo shifts occurring throughout this track, but the band never loses their focus and carries off the changes quite nicely. “Tech Boys” introduces new listeners to Dustin Patterson’s vocals and the contrast between his singing and Elane’s is noticeable, but not radically different. While it’s clear Patterson couldn’t carry off the upper register stuff that Elane can handle, he does bring a rougher-hewn rock vibe to his vocals that pay off more later in the album. A perfect example of that comes with his ferocious singing on the post-punk gem “Speak in Tongues”. Patterson sounds like he’s gunning for your jugular vein on this one and doesn’t spare his throat any punishment, but the band is equally up to the task and O’Meara, especially, lays down an authoritative rhythm for the two guitarists to brawl over.
“COOL” has some great attitude and a particularly fiery performance from Elane on both guitar and vocals, but it brings together a handful of elements rather than relying on an exclusively punk rock vibe. The slow build of “St. Mary” begins with some melodic and effects-treated guitar augmented by a light beat from O’Meara. It soon changes up into one of the album’s strongest grooves and builds to even including some fantastic and surprising saxophone contributions. The finale “Alone” finds Patterson taking over the lead vocals for the close, though Elane’s backing vocals buried just a bit in the mix have a pleasing doubling effect. Even more so than the aforementioned tune, it builds to a dramatic guitar-driven ending quite unlike anything else on this album. This is a work of creative daring and real inspiration. The Gods Themselves, naturally, play by their own rules and the experience of hearing them will leave many listeners feeling invigorated and entranced by their bravery.
9 out of 10 stars