The Urns open.
Though only 21 years of age, and recently a student at Philadelphia’s Temple University, DSU is Alex G’s fifth album. “I have been making music for as long as I can remember. My older brother is a talented musician and, as a kid, I would take after him by playing the keyboard. I always preferred writing my own music to learning other people’s work,” says Alex, which may go some way to explaining the volume of original material that exists. All recorded at home, almost exclusively solo, and, until recently, all self-released and available only via Bandcamp; the volume of his work online – combined with its vitality – has helped build a fervent cult fan base, resulting in two sell out US-only pressings of DSU via the esteemed Brooklyn bedroom label Orchid Tapes.
Wise beyond his years, Alex’s lyrics draw upon personal experiences whilst conveying something universal as if touching upon topics with a world-weary authority: the frustration that comes with dealing with reprobate friends, self-centred drug-use and the stinging loneliness of an unreciprocated affection all feature prominently. Like classic alternative artists Neil Young and Alex Chilton, Alex’s songs are refreshingly robust and rapturous, with enough lo-fi grit to ground them in a sparse, impressionistic space.
Sonically, his palette fluctuates from the rolling rhythms of album opener ‘After Ur Gone’ to the distorted atmospherics of ‘Hollow’; a shift that makes more sense when you realise Alex counts Silver Jews, Aphex Twin, Lucinda Williams and Boards of Canada amongst his diverse musical reference points. Everything is tied together by the ever present winding open spaces of his languid acoustic strums and the meandering melodies of that classic indie aesthetic. Lyrically each track on DSU – from the more intricate narrative of addictive highlight ‘Harvey’ to the overtly questioning elements of album closer ‘Boy’ – reveals just enough to embolden the listener to explore beneath its surface – making what they will of Alex’s introspective musings.
Much like his closest musical forebear, Elliot Smith, Alex’s music offers a complimentary sense of cathartic comfort in its moodiness. DSU is evidence of Alex G’s pliable sound – one which has whole crowds singing his own words back to him with voracious intent. In the US the album has already been ecstatically received, earning Alex the accolade of “the Internet’s Secret Best Songwriter” from The Fader while Rolling Stone named him “a bright new talent”.
Though Alex seems to gel with other musicians – “The Philadelphia scene has a few bands that I really like. Orchid Tapes is cool. Everyone in the scene is very supportive”- in many ways, he is even an outsider in a scene of outsiders; determined to succeed on his own artistic terms. As the furore for him grows internationally, the clearest and “the most magical thing about Alex G is that everyone who comes into contact with him seems to fall in love” -The 405.