Ian Sweet - Crush Crusher - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Ian Sweet - Crush Crusher

by Mark Moody Rating:6 Release Date:2018-10-26
Ian Sweet - Crush Crusher
Ian Sweet - Crush Crusher

Songwriter Jilian Medford has reinvented and relocated herself a few times.  Medford started as a solo artist, performing as IAN, later expanding to a trio and expanding the band name as well to IAN SWEET.  This time out on her second full length, Crush Crusher, Medford shed the other band members but kept the name.  Handling vocals and guitar duties herself, as usual, here she enlists Max Almario on drums and Simon Hanes on bass.  Medford has moved past her earlier lo-fi sound to a heavier psych/blues slather that coats almost every track.  She has always had a bit of a harder edge to her work, but the Crush Crusher title aptly describes the sound’s consistent application here. 

The album has some strong moments but lacks for variety in style and lyrical content.  Medford’s mantra is summed up well on the opening lines of ‘Falling Fruit’ where she observes “try peeling an orange for somebody else, without taking a slice for yourself.”  The theme of putting others ahead of herself persists over the album and is at its most strident on the hard rocking ‘Spit’: “you’ll go and I’ll get swallowed by someone else’s spit.” 

Sonically, ‘Holographic Jesus’ stands out for having shifts in tone and tempo and benefits from its longer running time allowing things to stretch out a bit.  The following re-work of the earlier ‘Bug Museum’ is one of the best songs here showing maturity as an artist and giving her voice more room.  The tempo picks up as it goes, but Medford’s voice stays on top of the fray and puts the song at the top of the offerings here.  The simply sung “I’m in deep for nothin’” at the song’s beginning is as affecting as anything else on the album.

The middle of Crush Crusher is marked by too many same sounding songs like the title track and ‘Borrowed Body’ that ultimately set the hardened tone for the album.  The ultra-confessional ‘Ugly/Bored’ with its floating guitar line and disassociated vocal make for a good recovery towards the album’s close.  And the off-kilter race of ‘Your Arms Are Water’ does make for a more interesting closer, but comes a little too late.  

It’s not that Crush Crusher is a bad album by any means, but the path Medford is taking is a crowded one and there is not much here to set herself apart.  There are too many by the book and same-sounding tracks here to make much of a splash in the rush of Fall releases.  Maybe changing her lineup each time out has taken something away from forging a clear creative path forward, but given her musical abilities and progress shown on a reworking of a track like ‘Bug Museum’ she’s sure to find the right formula eventually.        

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