Words by Eric Gasa
Alex G. has always had a way of coupling the dissociative and eerie with the warm and familiar; a teetering experience between fuzzy nostalgia and the cold sentiment of loneliness. It’s an angsty experiment that Giannascoli has been mastering since his days hashing out indie rock gold in his Temple University dorm room in 2014. House of Sugar does the same but with a clear-eyed, optimistic bend. Cloudy textures streak by on this record’s sky blue palette.
The sighing “Walk Away” blows into earshot like the first bone-chilling breaths of winter. It’s a shuffling song punctuated by Alex’s ambiguous murmurs of “walking away, but not today.” The misty stage is set for this record; the story of a singer-songwriter grounded in the familiar but floating up in the sky, his head stuck in the clouds. Alex has a knack for writing songs like bittersweet obituaries. “He was a good friend of mine, he died, why write about it now? Gotta honor him somehow,” he sings on “Hope”. Alex rides the rhythms of the track with a slanting guitar and chilling keys.
On House of Sugar, he pays his homage to gospel, country folk, and even PC and drone music on this record, conjuring a signature mishmash of dark sonic shapes and tones. “Project 2” is no exception and launches into a shuffling mix of drum machine beats and keyboard sampled choral notes.
Giannascoli crafts something that floats between the expanse of heaven and hell, sinister and sweet, confessional yet still foggy and ambiguous. It’s a mysteriously sweet spot where our love for his music lies; a well of nostalgia from a place we never knew. On the gorgeous video for “Gretel”, Alex couples the small-town visuals of a demolition derby in middle America with the aesthetics of an art house flick. It’s a surprisingly warm and beautiful experience rooted in the haunting acoustic sway of Alex’s guitar. The camera peers deeply into the eyes of everyday people; their countenances suggest long lost relatives or friends but belied by an almost chilling quality. Such is where Alex’s music transports us to; a place we’ve never been, but populated with characters we may have known in another life.
Gianoscolli still creates the same rugged and strange indie rock we love but this time he returns much more focused and poised. Instead of overextending into too many different styles and effects, Alex keeps the pitch of House of Sugar simple and direct. He sticks to the signature chug of the acoustic guitar, backed up with the twang of mandolins, and the inviting slide of the violin. On House of Sugar, Giannascoli continues to be beautifully lost in the gauzy dream.
‘House of Sugar’
© September 13, 2019
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