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(Sandy) Alex G House of Sugar Domino

Since signing to Domino five years ago, Alex Giannascoli’s output as (Sandy) Alex G has slowed down. In his teenage years, he was throwing an album onto Bandcamp what felt like every other week. Now we get steady, deliberate steps forward from an artist who’s continuing to grow into a cult hero. New album House of Sugar follows this trajectory.

2017’s Rocket saw Giannascoli pushed his sound to its extremes, from jangly country bops to Death Grips-esque thrashes. Songs are less out there on House of Sugar – but rather than becoming a middle-of-the-road listen, it sees the Philadelphia native settling into an unstoppable groove, with a clear intention to every note. Comparisons to Elliott Smith have followed Giannascoli around for most of his career, and they’re more unsurprising on House of Sugar than ever.

Stunning first single Gretel possesses the catchiest chorus he’s penned yet, and though he’s always been seen as somewhat of an evasive songwriter, he knows his way around a killer hook. But like Smith, he knows how to not exhaust this formula.

Plenty of weirdness still exists on House of Sugar, from the experimental jam of Project 2 to glitchy opener Walk Away, but as a whole, this feels like a cohesive statement. It could be tempting to read this as a lack of ambition, but instead this record presents (Sandy) Alex G at his most realised.