While Godspeed You! Black Emperor's discography has been growing ever more spotty as time goes on, it's still a monumental occasion each time the band releases, purely just on the extensive breadth, power and weight the band continues to pour into its music some 30 years from debut. And while it's no argument that the albums beyond Yanqui U.X.O. have often failed to capture that same grand, dramatic, and methodical approach to post-rock, there are still plenty of highlights across otherwise great releases. However, on the fourth release since the band's decade-long hiatus in the 2000s, Godspeed still struggles to find a new footing that can live up to its highest points. It's a shame that what is otherwise a sound post-rock album will forever live in the shadow of the band's past triumphs, as there are some wonderfully crafted performances on display on G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END!, but often feel derivative and sterilised in comparison. The delightfully blissful "GOVERNMENT CAME" toys with the same Swans-type field recording accompaniments Godspeed was originally praised for, and the 12 minute build that follows starts off as a hulking mass of percussion and downtrodden guitar, before picking itself up to become an uplifting and hopeful embrace of soaring guitar notes and orchestral swells, swaying as it climbs higher with the effortless grace only GY!BE could pull off. In terms of other highlights for the album, the final moments of Job's Lament, and its bright guitar melodies represent a crescendo moment for the album's first leg, and interlude moments such as track 4, and the closer, offer a contemplative cool-down point for the listener, in between the more intense moments.
However, it's the more compelling instrumentals of Godspeed's music that are the main attraction, and across G_d's Pee, there is just a severe lack on punch to some of these tracks. One of the album's main flaws in comparison to the band's other works, newer ones included, is a distinct avoidance of the dark themes that contrast the light that make the more expressive moments more explosive. On this album, from the album cover, to the band's sonic selections, it's clear that a more positive and hopeful approach has been attempted. Given the Bandcamp description for G_d's Pee lamenting both the band recording while wearing masks, while also calling for prison reform and wealth distribution, it's disappointing not to see a more confrontational side on an album promoted by a manifesto of demands.
Needless to say, there is a baseline level of talent the band obviously exudes, and while there aren't points on the album that are unlistenable (this is a Godspeed record, after all), the band's one-note approach to theme building on the record comes off less like an interesting detour, and more like an awkward misstep. Godspeed are still masters at their craft, but G_d's Pee doesn't quite make their Greatest Hits.
First of the Last Glaciers
where we break how we shine (ROCKETS FOR MARY)
“GOVERNMENT CAME” (9980.0kHz 3617.1kHz 4521.0 kHz)
Cliffs Gaze / cliffs’ gaze at empty waters’ rise / ASHES TO SEA or NEARER TO THEE
Least Favourite Tracks:
Military Alphabet (five eyes all blind) [4521.0kHz 6730.0kHz 4109.09kHz]
Fire at Static Valley