A bit of a belated return to form for Godspeed You!, but a welcome one all the same.
From the soaring crescendos of Lift Your Skinny Fists to the brooding, pensive atmosphere of F#A#∞, Godspeed You! Black Emperor made their name known by constructing long-winded and elaborate medleys, with field-recordings intertwined between each monolithic musical apex to help drive the album’s narrative. However, the Canadian collective, following their return after a decade-long hiatus, with the exception of their 2013 release, 'Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!, failed to recapture the spark that inundated their earlier material. If the latter half of Godspeed’s 2010s was marked by disappointment as it saw the band leisurely coasting through the decade by failing to develop their sound in a remarkable way, then G_d’s Pee seems to start their 2020s off by getting the ball rolling once again; it also should dissipate anyone’s fears that Godspeed has truly fallen off.
This album is the soundtrack to a post-apocalyptic world, one that God has abandoned and is now, metaphorically, using as his toilet. Cities burning, ground covered in rubble and blood, and buildings crumbling, the world is slowly turning to ash and dust. However, a small outfit of rebels stare death, and the government who caused this world to burn, right in the eyes and tells them to collectively fuck off as the corrupt government is attempting to eliminate everyone who fails to assimilate. Godspeed is leading this rebellion, and we are standing right beside them!
Two epics, both of which feeling sound like the musical equivalent of a rigorous battle raging on, stand tall next to two more elegant, shorter, and somewhat droney tracks, which feel like the calm before/after the storm. G_d’s Pee may be the band’s most blunt political statement as its stances on current government issues scream at you through slightly distorted radio broadcasts that serve as a means to help guide this record’s narrative, just like they used in their pre-hiatus releases. Frankly, the aptest summation that I can come up with for G_d’s Pee is that it feels like the culmination of Godspeed’s work up to this point, taking elements from all their classic albums, recontextualizing them, and creating a marriage between the roaring, liberating highs of Lift Your Skinny Fists and the tense, more claustrophobic atmosphere of Don’t Bend! Ascend! As the tracks build upon themselves, they tend to feel more colossal. Cosmic climaxes, waves of instrumentation, and staggering guitar-work take up the bulk of G_d’s Pee. It, quite honestly, feels like Godspeed at their most "godspeed" as songs dash by your ears with millions of dazzling intricacies going on within their compositions, yet the songs are in a perpetual state of change and barely give you the time to reflect on the many things occurring.
If I had to nail this album down to one specific feeling, it would be hope. Godspeed knows that, in these trying times, where the world is falling apart and the events that may lead to this are only being provoked by the world's power/war hungry leaders, all we need is a little bit of optimism; and Godspeed provides it. It's light at the end of the tunnel in some moments, though also the tunnel's darkness in others. This album is one of Godspeed's most triumphant, grandiose, and remarkable achievements yet. It’s truly awe-inspiring to see a band like Godspeed still continue to come up with fresh and new ideas over twenty years deep into their career. Godspeed to you, GYBE!
Favorite Tracks: Fire at Static Valley / “GOVERNMENT CAME” (9980.0kHz 3617.1kHz 4521.0 kHz) / Cliffs Gaze / cliffs’ gaze at empty waters’ rise / ASHES TO SEA or NEARER TO THEE / OUR SIDE HAS TO WIN (for D.H.)
Worst Tracks: A Military Alphabet (five eyes all blind) (4521.0kHz 6730.0kHz 4109.09kHz) / Job’s Lament / First of the Last Glaciers / where we break how we shine (ROCKETS FOR MARY)