Review: House of Sugar – (Sandy) Alex G

Making music for over a decade, (Sandy) Alex G has surmounted an impressive nine album discography. His latest album, House of Sugar, is nothing short but impressive. One of the best features of Alex G’s music is just how diverse the sound palette is, and this latest album is no exception. Veering further away from his standard indie folk ballad style, House of Sugar takes a more experimental approach. Imagine if IDM producer Flying Lotus decided to make indie instrumentals, thus you get House of Sugar.

Minus one song in particular, the first two-thirds of the album is spectacular. Each track is unique in its own way, meshing Alex G’s standard folk balladry with acoustic guitar and electronics. Each  track is memorable not only through the production, but the choruses and hooks as well. Songs like Project 2 and Bad Man stand out from the rest of the album  due to their stylistic change not only within the album, but Alex G’s entire musical catalogue.

Project 2 really exemplifies that indie version of Flying Lotus comparison I made earlier, as the track is solely instrumental. Alex G continues to diversify by taking a country approach on the following track, Bad Man, and utilizes fantastic percussion and a great electronic bridge between verses.

Unfortunately the great tracks begin to decline once we finish the ballad, In My Arms, which is the first track that really calls itself back to Alex G’s older works. Though the instrumentation isn’t nearly as experimental on this track, I appreciated the change of pace from the rest of the album. The following “classic” Alex G type ballads begin to stagnate with the final three tracks of the album: Cow, Crime, and SugarHouse - Live. The one thing I can appreciate from these three tracks is the use of saxophone in SugarHouse - Live due to it being the first taste of jazz on the album.

Even though I talked up the first two-thirds of the album as being perfect, I did mention one track that stuck out. Near unfortunately slightly taints the first two-thirds with the annoying repetition of, “I want to be near you you you you you…” The production on the song is solid, similarly to the rest of the album, but the vocals really hinder the track.

The final issue I found with this album is the lack of cohesive transitions. It almost feels as if this LP isn’t one real piece, but just a compilation of singles. The only thing that really holds the album together is the overarching experimental theme. Other than that, there is a clear lack of flow within the album even if majority of the songs are some of the best in Alex G’s discography.

Favorite Tracks: Walk Away, Hope, Southern Sky, Gretel, Taking, Project 2, Bad Man, Sugar, In My Arms



- gavtunes