The Familiar Alien Of (Sandy) Alex G

On September 16, 2019

Every week, we tell you about an album we think you need to spend time with. This week's album is House of Sugar, the new album from (Sandy) Alex G.

I’ll be honest, this was a pretty stressful (or fruitful, depending on how you look at it) week to be tasked with writing Album of the Week. There’s not a week in recent memory with a better harvest of good tracks: JPEGMAFIA?? Charli XCX?? Jenny Hval?? Chelsea Wolfe?? Come on! And while each drop has undoubtedly lived up to their respective hypes and then some, in my humble and published opinion, one album felt just too on the rosy autumnal full-moon-in-Pisces-Friday-the-13th nose not to write about: (Sandy) Alex G’s eighth album, House of Sugar.

Those who have followed Alex G — who’s become a cult indie deity of sorts, racking up critical acclaim at every turn and collabs with the likes of Frank Ocean — know the uncanny blow of embracing familiarity and salivating freakishness his music can pack. To turn on an Alex G album for the first time is both to hear your lifelong favorite song and a sonic salad you’ve never heard before, and will probably never hear elsewhere.

He’s the sweet but aloof cat that has been lingering in sunny spots on your back porch for years, but one day you look out your window to find out the cat’s a hologram, defying everything you thought you knew by leaping directly through a solid wall and fucking up your head. But no work of Alex G has done this quite as succinctly (or erratically) as House of Sugar.

There’s something unexplainable to the way he skates from ambient synth abstraction on “Project 2,” only to close the album with “SugarHouse,” a tune that very well could be a part of the Springsteen catalog from another planet, as if he were the intergalactic figure skater the cover dons. It should be jarring but, most successfully on House of Sugar, isn’t. He’s Tom Yorke one minute and Lucinda Williams the next, and you don’t have to make sense of it, because he’ll do that for you.

Even amongst the vast array of ground he covers — the beautiful sounds, and the characters battling gruesome virtues and vices, shit that can and will bring you to tears — there’s an overwhelming lightness to it all, a signature of our friend (Sandy) Alex G. There’s a photo of a page from “The Goldfinch” on his website that reads, “It has a joke at its heart. That’s what all the very greatest masters do. Rembrandt. Velazquez. Late Titian. They make jokes. They amuse themselves. They build up the illusion, the trick—but, step closer? It falls apart into brushstrokes.”

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Amileah Sutliff

Amileah Sutliff is a New York-based writer, the Head of Editorial at Vinyl Me, Please and an editor of the book The Best Record Stores in the United States.

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