To call Black Sugar Transmission’s new album sprawling doesn’t quite cut it – this thing is massive, in the best way possible. An impeccably sequenced double-album, “In the City’s Arms” is the soundtrack to a NYC summer– shiny, sweaty, glistening, and propulsive – a brisk, headphoned walk through lower Manhattan at dusk, heart thrumming, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge as the sun dips behind you.
Andee Blacksugar’s ambition on this, the follow-up to 2015’s great “Violent Muses”, is pronounced – each of the twenty-four songs has its own personality while also feeling like a part of the greater whole. Opener, “Machinegun Sun’s” skittering beats break into melodramatic synth washes and processed, menacing whispers, giving way to Blacksugar’s pleading vocals and piano. “Spilling From the Wet Mouth of Hell” (seriously, what a fucking title!) sounds a bit like 23rd Century Beatles and “Flashbulb Disease” would do his late Purple Majesty proud. There are ghosts throughout the record; the album is dedicated to “Lemmy Bowie Prince”, and the closer to this monster, “Stuck It To You”, is pure “Hunky Dory” gorgeousness.
The record is split into two discs, and it makes sense. In spite of its technology-abetted tunesmithing, Blacksugar has defiantly made a “Record with a capital R” – sequencing matters, and even the slighter tunes work in service of the greater arc. It takes balls to buck trends and release something like this at a time when tunes are purchased (or stolen) piecemeal, and the fact that the damn thing WORKS is a testament to the talent of its creator. So, pull up your fishnets, strap on your New Rocks, and lose yourself in the sweltering summer heat.