Cry Sugar

Cry Sugar

Listen to the fourth album by Scotland-born, LA-based Ross Birchard and you’re liable to feel a little overwhelmed. Sugar rush or religious epiphany? The elation of a good roller coaster or the nausea that sets in when the ride loses control? Birchard likes it all, and by the fistful. Nearly a decade out from his public christening as a producer for Kanye West (“Mercy,” “Blood on the Leaves”) and half of the jock-jam festival phenomenon TNGHT (with Lunice), he’s become the kind of musician it seems like he wanted to be all along: bright, weird, funky, funny, and guided by an optimism so irrepressible you wonder if, deep down, he feels a little sad. “Stump” is the most beautiful music that didn’t make Blade Runner. “Bicstan” is Aphex Twin for a seven-year-old’s birthday party. He can balance tracks as abstract as “Kpipe” with ones as direct as “3 Sheets to the Wind,” and the soulful lag of American rap (“Redeem”) with the momentum of UK bass (“Rain Shadow,” “Is It Supposed”), not to mention whatever neon-halo hybrid “Behold” is. This is opera for people raised on anime. And as easy as it is to imagine listening in a big, sweaty room, he knows that most of us will end up taking it in alone on headphones—and he wants us to have fun.

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