Review: The Gods Themselves — Be My Animal

The Gods Themselves

If you like garbage you’ll totally like latest album released on January 20th by Seattle alt-dance band The Gods Themselves. Oh wait…my bad. If you like Garbage (as in the band) you’ll totally like the latest album by The Gods Themselves (TGT is better tho, IMHO). Be My Animal (recorded at The Kill Room Studios by Ben Jenkins and mixed by Chris Barns) is a record that manages to be both extremely catchy and challengingly interesting. It drips with irony without descending in to snottiness (well sometimes it’s snotty but it’s funny). The brash 80’s cover art immediately signals TGT’s fondness for pastiche. In the title track (and opener), vocalist Astra Elane begins with an overwrought spoken word piece breathily saying “I’ll never be a high school queen/The boys laugh, the girls are mean.” The song then breaks into a wide open synthscape exploring the morays of teenage love in a manner that is both humorously florid and sympathetically kind. The “ingénue” protagonist, taken straight from The Breakfast Club, is caught up in a love that will finally rescue her from her banal existence as a young girl so far beyond her years surrounded by people who don’t understand her. They sing “of Trojans and cloves”; inclinations toward the tamer spectrums of rebellion, lost in the animalistic impulses previously so mysterious and strange.

“Tech Boys” is one of the catchiest songs on the album and far and away the most vicious. It’s also probably the funniest. It starts of with a bass line reminiscent of the darker moments of Depeche Mode and then breaks out into a driving party jam alight with jangling surf tone guitar. Real estate agents, Pottery Barn, craft breweries, and (recently) Blink-182 are certainly benefiting from the massive influx of programming pilgrims brought in by Amazon and Microsoft. Local artists aren’t reaping many of the general economic benefits from the fields of new condos cropping up all over the city. More people doesn’t necessarily mean more records sold. Just listen to it on Spotify for FREE baby! “Titillation/We got an app for that/Masturbation/ We got an app for that/Desperation/We got an app for that/Gentrification/We got an app for that” is the refrain revealing the very real frustration of being a native (term used broadly) pushed out by a deluge of more economically successful people. History shows that this is the way things are. It doesn’t make it suck any less though. Of course every artist in this city has a transplant friend most likely connected to one of the bigger Northwest companies but grant us our “Tech Boys”–a therapeutic, poignant piece of petty revenge.

Be My Animal is as front loaded as a blunderbuss. Not to say the later songs on the record aren’t great (they are), but there is such a delicious amount of humor in the first three songs I can’t help but be effusive on the opening half. “So Hot” is reminiscent of Tacocat’s song fantastic song, “Hey Girl” but opts for a bit more subtlety in its execution.“So Hot” is embarrassingly catchy (hmmm maybe this one is the catchiest, you’ll find yourself asking that) and while you’re listening to it out loud you really hope other people catch the depth within its bubblegum exterior instead of looking at you like you’re the kind of person who listens to Spice Girls. The chorus is about as narcissistic as it gets: “I am I am I am I am so hot” and belies some of the song’s darker currents. “Where did you get that mojo from/You’re like a brand new stick of bubblegum/So pristine if you know what I mean/Ready or not I gotta get what you got” has some rather rapacious undertones. Sham self-esteem is poor recompense for objectification but sometimes that’s all one can recuperate. The song goes on to describe the main character getting “all banged up in a cat fight…fuss and fury in the parking lot” culminating in a list to the “Doctor” because “he did it again.” After some sort of epiphanic moment, she has found some genuine value within herself. The song is bookended with another cat call “what are the odds you stay with me tonight?” To which she replies, “nuh-uh. What does it look like dummy?/I am I am I am I am so hot.” Turning the phrase from a rather suspect badge of insecurity to an anthem of self confidence and power. Brilliant.

Ultimately, Be My Animal explores notions of identity in a world where we are constantly invited or coerced into opening the floodgates to the outside and living facsimiles of other, better lives. In “Love,” Dustin Patterson hearkens back to the title track singing the line “I wanna be on the guest list/I’m here for the french kiss/I want the love like the love I see.” In the Facebook era more than ever, we are subject to our urge to mimic the distilled experiences of others constantly plastered across our screens. Difficult personal and societal subjects are buried in shallow graves all over Be My Animal, all the while couched in bouncy guitars and drums that make you want to dance your head off. That’s an effect most people could use in 2017.

(You can listen to Be My Animal below via Bandcamp, and get more info about The Gods Themselves at their website HERE. The album is also available for purchase HERE.)