Following his recent name change that sought to end the often confused female songwriter known by the same pseudonym, (Sandy) Alex G reemerges to offer one of his most polished records to date, a feature that does not necessarily work for the better.
Let’s be clear, Rocket is most definitely a solid work from cover to back, offering a range of different ideas and sounds that piggyback off each other in ways that are both cryptic and clear depending on the track. Singles like “Proud” and “Bobby” resonate contemporary Americana through its use of trotting meter and singing fiddles.
On the flip side, songs such as “Brick” bring out industrial properties and harsh noise that emulates the tone of more seasoned hardcore veterans such as Death Grips or even Nine Inch Nails. Even still, the impressive dynamic of this record cannot win me over all the time.
“Horse” is an example of a piece that comes across as too messy despite its intentional appeal to being a ‘focus track’. I enjoyed it upon the first few listens but after becoming more familiar with the track it develops a slight annoyance factor that I can’t tune out.
While I favor some of the later tracks over the front half of the album, there is the issue of ordering and arrangement that also keeps me from being overly attached to this record. Tracks like “Big Fish” would support the narrative much better to be placed as the very last track. “Witch”, “Horse” and “Brick” could also be mixed into different intervals to avoid the dissonant void in the middle half of the album.
Focusing on lyrics, Alex G is soaring in this category. With most songs continuing the two or three verse pattern G has kept up over the years, it’s comforting to see the most intriguing fragment of his work is still surpassing previous projects. “Judge” is my personal favorite in this category, carrying out a gazey-grunge style musically and emanating powerful words such as:
“All the time
I try to recall
What drove you away from here
What was dream and what was real
Where was I
That day meant nothing to me
A hiccup in my memory
This life will leave you hungry
I am completely guilty”
Even cheesier or more straightforward lines carried out on tracks like “Bobby” create effortless imagery that is propelled by the adolescent inflection of this duet.
“I paint pictures of my heart
The colors blue and purple start
To bleed into an endless dark
It’s only you it’s only you”
While these lyrics stick and please the standards that Alex G has set for his writing, it is admittable that the themes of his tunes are beginning to weigh thin.
Rocket showcases some of Alex G’s most versatile talent to date, holding a heavy focus on not leaning on one sound for too long. While some more folk centered tracks rely upon tired techniques and certain tracks orders could benefit from better placement, this record is a welcome addition to G’s discography and long-term fans shouldn’t have an issue getting into the tracks presented here. That being said, Rocket may not be for listeners expecting a reinvented artist. My honest opinion of this album is a 7/10.