Alex G has built quite a reputation for himself as a producer and multi-instrumentalist in the music scene over the past few years. After emerging from independent Bandcamp projects with great success, he began releasing music with Domino Records. He’s since collaborated extensively with great musical minds like Frank Ocean, among others, making there be no doubt that Alex G has a respected musical mind. Yet, as with his previous projects, his newest offering House of Sugar sees Alex G falling short. He leads the listener through some gorgeous, haunting, and intricate soundscapes, but his lacklustre songwriting and vocal performance on most of the songs leave the listener lost in his aesthetic concepts.
The album gets off to a promising start, with the opening track ‘Walk Away’ blending interesting, droning voice samples and lo-fi production to create the most psychedelic track on the album. It is one of the lengthier songs on the album, and leads to the indie rock influenced ‘Hope’ and ‘Southern Sky’. Rhythmic strumming of the acoustic guitar, punchy drums and delicate pianos on these tracks are reminiscent of musical stylings of the early 2000s. ‘Gretel’ presents listeners with the most memorable track on the album, with an excellent melody. Grunge inspired guitars, passionate vocals, and descending chime tones come together to create a dreamy track that is inherently relaxing.
However, at some point the tracks just seem to be vague musical motifs and ideas rather than complete songs. Tracks like ‘Taking’ and ‘Sugar’ have extremely interesting production, with regal strings refrains in the latter track. But both lack structure and deft lyricism. ‘Near’ features an annoying vocal hook with repetitive synth beats. Many of the songs on the tail end of the album like ‘Cow’ and ‘Crime’ are generally bland and forgettable, even if they are extremely rich in production upon a first listen.
Like his previous albums, the instrumental arrangements show Alex G’s capable direction, but with that come lyrics and melodies that seem unfinished. The first few songs give a reason to revisit the album, but as a whole House of Sugar is underwhelming, frustratingly in the same ways his music was before.
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