The Gods Themselves, a three piece from the Pacific Northwest, have been involved in the area’s music scene since the early 2000’s, but they have found a creative spark together that’s only grown over the course of three full length albums. Their third release, Be My Animal, follows up 2015’s Pink Noise with another scintillating collection. The band marries a number of sympathetic musical styles, primarily disco, New Wave and guitar pop, with an individualistic and edgy lyrical bent unlike anything else you’ll hear in modern music today. Astra Elane and Dustin Patterson share guitar and vocal duties, Patterson on baritone guitar, and Collin O’Meara’s direct drumming sets a muscular and instantly identifiable tone for the songwriting. Be My Animal features nine songs that have the potential to connect with a wide assortment of listeners.
The title track opens the album auspiciously. Elane’s echo-laden spoken word in the introduction gradually evolves into an equally plaintive and impassioned vocal. The song has an unusual tempo in the way that it seems to be perpetually teetering on the edge of a full explosion, but it leaves this suggestiveness deliciously unresolved. Patterson takes over the vocals on the album’s second song “Tech Boys” with Elane contributing occasional, unobtrusive backing vocals. The guitars are a little more straight-forward here compared to the opener, but it does nothing to mute the glorious New Wave rock vibe they achieve here. “Speak in Tongues” explores the band’s post-punk leanings with the album’s shortest song so far. The chaotic air they bring to this song is quite enjoyable, but despite its raucousness, the band maintains great focus throughout and the production imbues Elane’s and Patterson’s guitar with real bite. The album’s first single, “COOL”, has a jaunty air and great work from the rhythm section that gives Elane a solid foundation for her vocal. Many of the band’s song clock in near the five minute mark and it’s this sort of willingness to musically stretch, among other less obvious reasons, that sets The Gods Themselves apart from pure pop rock. There’s an understated ambition in these songs lurking just beneath their catchy surfaces and the light cynicism they bring to the lyrics on this track makes it all the more memorable.
The uptempo pace of “St. Mary” and the addition of Jeremy Shaskus’ saxophone bring an unexpected flavor to this piece that works quite nicely. There’s a lovely hushed quality to Elane’s vocals that Patterson’s baritone guitar counterpoints in a dramatic way. The tempo has some jump again on the album’s penultimate song “Dance with Me”. This song, once again, takes the band into outright New Wave territory, but the signature idiosyncrasies that make The Gods Themselves special return as well. The guitar work and the sense of chaos lurking around the edges are ever present and the band makes great use of these elements. Be My Animal’s closing track “Alone” is the album’s longest outing, but the band never risks self-indulgence. Instead, this song gets a steady and patient build from its held back first section into the second half’s array of crashing guitars and thunderous percussion. It’s a closer with an exclamation point that shows a final shade of color in the band’s wonderfully chameleon like nature. The third release from this band shows the trio off as a group who can make anything convincing that they turn their attentions to and the effect of listening to this album is often quite thrilling.
9 out of 10 stars.