By Hope Kronke
An eerie, lush ringing enters your ears as House of Sugar, the latest release from Alex G, who is also known as Sandy on stage, begins to play. Possibly his most poignant and telling release yet, it comes as no surprise that House of Sugar has already received plenty of acclaim from fans and critics alike.
Alex Giannascoli has become a fixture for indie music. He has worked with artists from Frank Ocean to Porches on account of his talent in guitar, songwriting and producing. In my opinion, House of Sugar might be one of Giannascoli’s best records yet. For me, it seems to get better and better the more I listen to it. With each listen you discover more and more that you didn’t necessarily catch on the first time around.
The complexity of the production is plays a prevalent part in the album and it pays off. He blends jarring noise with beautiful melody to create something very emotional and compelling. The album is cohesive, with recurring themes and melodies to keep you intrigued. For me, this album came at the perfect time, a time of change and renewal: a new semester and the changing of seasons.
Both sweet and disquieting, similar to a fairy tale, the album has dream-like qualities, wavering in and out of reality in both sound and content. Blending the ideas of experimental production with traditional composition, it is both graceful and erratic. The best example of this is “Bad Man”, the eighth track of the album. With a jangly, country twang and upbeat instrumentation, the lyrics say: “When the bomb dropped, I was 22 / Buried under black dirt, how about you? / When the bomb dropped I was 25 / Lying in the grass under tangerine sky.” The eccentricities and anxieties of this album are what make it unique and telling of who Giannascoli is as an artist.
Some of my favorite tracks so far are “Southern Sky”, “In My Arms” and “Cow”. All are more emotional and raw without being too sentimental or sappy. The whole album sounds very lush and layered, and these tracks are no exception. He approaches sensitivity with subtlety to produce something accessible and memorable.
House of Sugar blends together the best bits and pieces of Giannascoli’s work: the low-fi, raw emotion of Trick fused with the schizophrenic arrangement of Rocket. Giannascoli has a way of making his listeners nostalgic for a time they never experienced, causing a flood of memories that don’t belong to them.
This is the kind of album that makes you want to simultaneously slow dance with the one you love and contemplate your very existence in the best way possible. Over all, the more I listen to House of Sugar, the more I fall in love with it. It’s definitely an album that stays fresh even after coming back to it time and time again. (Sandy) Alex G will be performing in Austin at Mohawk on Oct. 22 as part of his tour promoting House of Sugar.