HUSH Debuts New Single “Sugar”

by Liv Bjorgum

“Sugar,” the seventh and newest single by west coast band HUSH, is ready for the radio. A faster-tempo departure from the band’s previous, more Blood Orange-influenced tracks, “Sugar” emerges as an amalgam of HUSH’s past work and dreams for the future. Riddle-like lyrics and unique instrumentals that blend pop, R&B, and electronic music seamlessly combine to create a groovy and shimmering track. 

Each of HUSH’s songs involves collaboration between five band members (singer Leben Bleasdale, guitarist Kevin Karp, keyboardist Ben Story, bassist Kevin Pugh, and drummer and percussionist Austin Herzig). HUSH has already performed multiple times in Los Angeles at venues such as the Whisky A Go-Go and the Troubadour and completed tours in the United States supporting Private Island and Michael Barr. The band has already released six singles, and with their debut EP arriving in early September, HUSH is ready for take-off.

A September trip Bleasdale, Karp, and their producer took to Joshua Tree, a national park in southern California, led to the creation of the song. “I’m not sure what it is about the high desert that invokes such recklessness in me, perhaps the sensation of being completely isolated (a rare feeling in Los Angeles),” Bleasdale says, continuing on to describe the thrill and freedom of the unknown as other inspiring aspects of the desert. “Sugar” follows the roots of inter- and intra-personal relationships, described through religious metaphors and prehistoric allusions. Bleasdale traces the ritualistic references of the song back to a half-hour lightning storm that occurred during their trip to Joshua Tree that ignited feelings of supernatural awe.

One can feel the seemingly otherworldly infinity of the night “Sugar” came to life in its lyrics. The possible danger the desert invokes and the precedentless nature of night reveal themselves as the song goes on. The lyrics discuss “a sacrifice that makes the earth shake,” showing the way humans and the natural world intertwine in the song. In the chorus, however, “sugar-coated lies” contrast with the elements, providing insight into the two narratives of the song. “Sugar” presents shrines and Sundays alongside paintings on walls, leaving the listener to untangle the whole story. 

Photo by    Grace Aguilar

Photo by Grace Aguilar

The west coast constantly affects the way the band interacts with the world, and this sentiment is perhaps most evident in “Sugar,” given its desert origins. Bleasdale explains that “as an artist I firmly believe that while art is inherent to your person your environment is always gonna play a part in what you create. I hope that there’s an element of that in everything we do.” While places can capture memories, environments can inform attitudes and perspectives. Many different influences of place seep “Sugar” to give it its multilayered vitality.

“Sugar” brings nuance to the pop genre, inflecting it with an almost-folkloric touch and interesting genre-blending. Despite its name, “Sugar” avoids too saccharine a sound and, replete with its own style, weaves a story that marks an important point in the journey of HUSH.