Recording and releasing three full albums in a year is no small feat for even the most accomplished act, but Andee Blacksugar proves himself up to the task with the release of the final installment of his 2020 trilogy as Black Sugar Transmission. Not the sort of artist to stick to one style, Blacksugar’s music runs a veritable gauntlet of genres, all set to a decidedly funky brand of electronic rock & roll in which even the most simple and straightforward pop song becomes a cause for intense sonic study; with Dream Finisher, all of his skills are taken to the extreme to result in an album that bears a cynical yet hopeful ambience appropriate to life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether the songs lyrically address this or not is open for interpretation, but it’s difficult to hear songs like the bittersweet “Life’s a Memory” or lyrics like “Don’t cry, we need you on the front lines” on “Thrill of a Lifetime” without thinking about the tumultuous state of a world gone awry. As well, the songs on Dream Finisher almost have a more spacious and atmospheric vibe than the previous installments in the trilogy, with songs like the aforementioned “Thrill of a Lifetime,” “Counting Out the Sunsets,” and “Don’t Make It Easier” taking on an almost shoegazing quality, the latter track’s sustained keyboards bearing a resemblance to the electrified drones of master Brian Eno, beckoned on by a driving bass. Oh, but it wouldn’t be Black Sugar Transmission if there weren’t a bit of funkiness to the music, with the opening “Easy Way” coming across like a modern take on T-Rex or Berlin-era David Bowie as its glam-riddled guitar leads and solo complement the strutting rhythms and lush vocal harmonies, while the steely slap bass of “Meter Is Running” almost distracts from the rather odd progressions in the chorus, the rhythm seemingly dancing around the beat signaled by a warbling synth arpeggio. Other songs like “Turn the Screw,” “Mission Creep,” and “Riddle Forever” possess a more distinct and inescapable post-punk vibe that can leave the listened in a state of unrelenting tension, and “Spinaway” stands out for its use of a chugging guitar drone, the vocals carrying the song’s melodic progression while a spastic keyboard solo evokes a ‘70s progressive rock feel that gives way to the clamorous ring of a telephone. The album seemingly ends on a dryly sardonic note with “Endtimes” sounding like the sort of track John Hughes might have used for the inspirational climax to one of his movies; glassy synths, danceable beats, and chiming guitars hearken back to a bygone era when the apocalypse seemed more like a bad fashion statement than a plausible future, the sudden whispered end of “Go back to sleep now” abruptly ending the record rather ominously. Everything about Black Sugar Transmission’s music is rife with precision in production and performance, and Dream Finisher is no exception as it brings the 2020 trilogy to a satisfying conclusion; with all three entries touching on themes of social alienation in times of strife, one is left wondering what was the dream? Ah, but that is for the listeners to figure out for themselves.