(Sandy) Alex G has rose to a nearly unmatched status in the landscape of contemporary indie rock. His unique style of playing guitar has garnered the attention of an impressive list of collaborators over the past several years -- ranging from Frank Ocean to Oneohtrix Point Never. House of Sugar is his most thematically ambitious and cohesive album to date, which is saying something considering he’s released something on the order of 9 records. His most devoted fans can be found digging through forgotten corners of YouTube for since deleted material on top of the 26-year-olds extensive discography.
House of Sugar takes the listener on a Greyhound bus ride through middle America. The characters we meet along the way feel both completely familiar and otherworldly. Instead of the overplayed tropes American idealism or nihilism, Alex G navigates a surreal space in between. Taking its title from Philidelphia’s SugarHouse casino, this album feels most akin to an Edward Hopper painting, familiar at first glance but increasingly alienating the longer you spend with it.
Sonically the album is just as intriguing. Just as the themes riff off of ideas of Americana, so does the soundscape. The second track and one of the lead singles, Hope, plays with conventional guitar driven indie rock songwriting but as the record progresses, this sense of familiarity devolves. Midway through the album the song “Near”, stands out as a sort of road sign. Beginning with harsh sounding electronic noise and chorused by echoing, distorted vocals. The following track, “Project 2”, lives in the same world. Open, spacey synthy and urgent drums push us further into Alex G’s warped universe. Where most albums seem to patch these sort of elements together haphazardly, House of Sugar gives the listener enough a roadmap to feel both eclectic and cohesive.
Creating an extra dimension of appeal is Sandy’s characteristic plain spoken, poignant lyricism. Simple lines like “You know who was in my arms” and “All I want is to be near you,” ring heartbreakingly poetic in Alex G’s timbre. House of Sugar’s dynamic vignettes find their way worming into your consciousness, pulling you back into the album after you’ve played the last track.
Written by Maddie Schwappach
No streaming this week :( Tune in to hear the new album!