~ Cardiac ablation uses heat or cold energy to create tiny scars in the heart to block irregular electrical signals and restore a regular heartbeat ~
Sugar Wife’s songwriter and lead vocalist Damien Goerke was born with two heart conditions; Atrial Fibrillation (AF) – an irregular heartbeat, and Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT) – an irregularly fast heartbeat. Some people affected with these conditions can live relatively normal lives but Damien’s symptoms were severe. After 15 years of those symptoms, medications, multiple cardiac ablation operations and even one flatline, both conditions were finally cured in 2019 – the same year the band was formed and found its sun and thunder sound.
The themes on Sugar Wife’s debut album circulate the mental and physical trauma that come with prolonged, extraordinary health problems interspersed with regular themes that everyone experiences in everyday life. Like blood before and after it has been pumped through the heart, the songs on Ablations often carry a duality; some are paired in the same key, some hold a shared hook or lyric, and they’re all as much for the listener as they are for their makers.
The duality also comes in the form of a duet: the lead single, “Slack” where Damien shares vocals with Blue Grey Pink labelmate Angie Colman. Together, they sing about the very regular themes of burnout, impostor syndrome and being too hard on yourself. Existing at a meeting point between the positive ideologies of an IDLES song and the warm, gentle waves of Beach House, it’s that one thing you needed to hear today. It comes accompanied with a one-shot music video filmed by the band themselves.
No part of this collection of songs would have come together in the way that it has without Damien’s bandmates; long-time friend and collaborator Anthony Pugliese (guitars), WAM award nominee Bridget Cleary (keys/saxophone), Odlaw/Blue Grey Pink founder Mark Neal (bass) and Julia Jacklin collaborator Ryan K Brennan (drums/percussion) who also recorded and mixed the whole album.
Whether it be the cathartic 12-string jangle of “Everything Here” or the dense, layered centrepiece “Down at the End of my Arm”, the rest of the album is packed with moods and hooks for each chamber of the heart and lyrics to feed both sides of the brain. It’s all for holding you together through everday life, however regular or irregular it may be.