God from the Machine’s “Given Up” is the emotional, soft-rock anthem you’ve been waiting for. Peppered with ethereal guitar parts, masterful live drums, and perfectly-suited vocals, this track feels like something written by Dave Grohl himself. Give this one a listen if you’re missing the early 2000s, and want a slightly modernized version of that alt-rock sound.
This song starts off with one of songwriting’s most beloved tools: A recitation of the verse melody on the guitar. It’s a great way to introduce certain motifs without giving too much information away. Along with some fairly lively, hi-hat-driven drums, the singer comes in and tops the mix with a bright, raspy tone. Soon, this rhythmic, mesmerizing pre-chorus melody launches us right into the chorus. The singer chimes, “I have given up,” with a dramatic, held-out note. The drums crash into half-time, and the harmonies ramp up to fill out the tonal space.
As the verses and choruses all bleed into each other gracefully, a brief instrumental takes hold of the track and changes the sound. The chords swell between 2 expectant major chords, and the background vocals perform these lovely “oh’s and ah’s.” There’s a sonic implication of hope here, which juxtaposes the rather dejected lyrical content in the rest of the song. It’s a smart, subtle change that completes the layered mood. Suddenly, there’s a swirl of different emotions associated with the harmonic choices, melodies, and lyrics.
“Given Up” is a song you’ll need to listen to multiple times to absorb completely. In fact, you should probably just add it to your indie rock playlist for safekeeping. You won’t regret it!
Written by Alyce Lindberg