You’d think that most artists create in a vacuum. Most though are regimented and the art they put out is based on what they feel people want to hear. Take, (Sandy) Alex G though and what you get is someone strictly interested in creating and what they are creating is, luckily for us, lush, wonderful and so pure that it seems, any other way you’d approach it is wrong. The artist has just released his new album, House Of Sugar, and it’s as wonderfully pure as anything you expect from someone as genuine as he is. Starting his career with independent releases on Bandcamp and dubbed the “internet’s best songwriter” by Fader, the artist, who is known by family as Alex Giannascoli, has put out another collection of songs that is intriguingly fantastic in the way that you would come to expect.
House Of Sugar kicks off with “Walk Away” all strummed acoustic guitars and vocals fed backwards when the drums kick in, creating a kaleidoscope of colour with the repeated refrain of “not today” that is immediately pulls you in to the proceedings. It’s rare to hear something so bold. This boldness is followed up with “Hope” a more straight ahead track that conjures up Elliot Smith with its double tracked falsetto vocals and acoustic guitars. In fact this continues with “Southern Sky” a track that wouldn’t seem out of place on a later Elliott Smith album. Giannascoli has this rare ability to make songs that are seemingly off the cuff but that have huge emotional payoff.
“Gretel” is one such song. The continuous refrain of “I don’t want to go back” amongst the hard hitting psychedelics of the instrumentation buries itself into you the more you listen to it in the most gratifying way possible. Giannascoli has this way of making songs that have this concrete aesthetic but can pinch a nerve with a phrase. “Near” is a perfect example of this with its repeatative vocals just floating over top of multiple strummed guitars, feeling like it’s basically collapsing on itself. “All I Want Is To Be Near You” makes the song infinitely relatable. “Project 2” takes everything in a bit of a different direction with a ton of synths and a broken up drum machine. “Bad Man” and “Sugar” keep the digital vibe going before the record gets back to a more organic feel with the album highlight “In My Arms” a beautifully languid track that captures the best things about Giannascoli’s music. The simple and the complicated working together to create something more than the sum of its parts. It’s beautiful and challenging simultaneously. The album wraps with “Crime” showcasing Giannascoli”s ability to craft a more straight forward but not less beautiful affair.
House Of Sugar is defiantly the album of a singular artist. One that will constantly surprise you in the most heartfelt way possible. Sometimes the best art is created in a vacuum and in the case of (Sandy) Alex G, the vacuum is lined with infinity relatable and gorgeous inspiration that few and far between can capture.
review by Adam Fink