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Godspeed You! Black Emperor - G_d's Pee at State's End! (Album Review)

Thursday, 08 April 2021 Written by Jacob Brookman

Photo: Yannick Grandmont

There is a particular brand of liberal cynicism that is consistently targeted by the political right. You know it when you see it: a kind of tired defeatism that ‘lifts its skinny fists’ (to borrow a Godspeedism) against Western hegemony and governmental hypocrisy with what seems like a lack of perspective. Easy pickings for the culture warriors.

This is the space that Canadian post-rock ensemble Godspeed You! Black Emperor occupy, and their new album 'G_d’s Pee at State’s End!' is a musical indictment of the world in its current state. It’s a strangely triumphant record that seems to take joy in despair through cryptic and slightly annoying segment titles like Where We Break How We Shine (Rockets for Mary).

It is occasionally hard listening. First of the Last Glaciers is a repetitive dirge that, for all its elaborate textures in arrangement, does precious little of melodic interest.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor exist in a similar realm to Sigur Rós or—at a pinch—Nils Frahm, but their music often lacks the euphoria and intelligence of other composers, despite trying very hard.

That said, there are some interesting moments here, with Government Came providing some excellent soundtrack dynamism, and it is a rich, massive-sounding record in the main. But too often tracks feel compositionally conservative and predictable. Even the use of transistor radio as a spooky motif throughout is slightly unimpressive. It was used more inventively by Radiohead 20 years ago and Pink Floyd 25 years before that. 

It feels harsh to come down on a group who are clearly so very conscientious and, frankly, hard-working and committed to making the world a better place, but ‘G_d’s Pee at State’s End!’ doesn’t really butter the parsnips. It is a boring and frustrating album, and one which lacks versatility and charm.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sun January 16 2022 - LONDON Electric Ballroom
Mon January 17 2022 - LONDON Electric Ballroom
Wed January 19 2022 - BRISTOL SWX
Thu January 20 2022 - COVENTRY HMV Empire
Fri January 21 2022 - GLASGOW Barrowland Ballroom
Sat January 22 2022 - MANCHESTER Manchester Academy

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