Indie artist (Sandy) Alex G, or more commonly referred to as just ‘Alex G’ recently released his newest album titled House of Sugar on September 13. Per usual, he did not disappoint. This is Alex G’s ninth studio album; similarly to his other works, House of Sugar’s songs all have nostalgic tones to them. What makes House of Sugar different is the feeling of the entire album as a collective narrative. When listened in order, all the songs tell a part of the story, and can almost be thought of as divided into “acts.”
Prologue: Walk Away
The song “Walk Away” is the opener of the album and sets the intentions for the next part of the album, featuring Alex G’s more personal songs. The song repeats the phrase “Someday I’m gonna walk away from you/not today” layered over and over, with chaotic and contorted melodies.
Act I: Hope–Gretel
This portion of the album features two of the singles that were released before the debut of the entire record, “Hope” and “Southern Sky.” The songs in this portion are more true to Alex G’s established lo-fi sound and style. However, “Hope” is one of the first songs where he explicitly alludes to an experience in his life. He sings about the pain he feels due to a good friend of his death as a result of drug use. His lyrics state “We gotta honor him somehow.” “Southern Sky” follows with a tone that is more assuring and comforting, with hope for what is to come. This tone continues with “Gretel,” as he sings of temptation and struggles to stay on track, but an ultimate resistance. This perhaps refers to Alex G’s own personal struggle with addiction and its consistent impact on his life. The theme and title of the song also align with that of the fairytale Hansel and Gretel, along with the title of the album, House of Sugar. It parallels in that he talks of addiction and the temptations that come with it, similarly to Hansel and Gretel being tempted by the gingerbread house in the fairytale.
Act II: Taking–Sugar
These next five songs feature all of Alex G’s experimental tracks on the album. “Near” almost sounds electronic with its tempo and pitch play, and “Bad Man” is sung with a silly cowboy-esque sound. Each is unique in style, contrasting with wildly different instrumentals, but collectively flowing together.
Act III: In My Arms–Crime
As the narrative nears its resolution, Alex G somewhat returns to a tone of comfort and familiarity, especially in “In My Arms.” This portion of the album is about love in various ways. My personal favorite is “Cow,” in which he uses a cow as a metaphor for a lover that is captivating, saying “You big old cow/you draw me out/lie on the ground/kiss on the mouth.” The track sounds pure and raw, using only acoustic guitar as backing. The song “Crime” contrasts, suggesting possible conflict or separation, “Careful what you do, or I’m leaving without you.”
Epilogue: SugarHouse- Live
“SugarHouse” closes the album, recorded live at a 2018 show in St. Louis. The title of the song is the name of a casino that is in the town where Alex G grew up. This again appeals to the nostalgic theme of his songs and can also display the constant impact of his past on his current character. “I wanna be there with you somehow/but the SugarHouse calling my bluff.” Whatever troubles him, the decisions he’s made, all of it is weighing in. Nonetheless, he remains hopeful for the future, singing “I hope they can put me together again.”