For as much as indie rock has been saturated with samey artists, Ian Sweet show far emotional depth can take an album. Jilian Medford puts herself into this latest Ian Sweet record, and fleshes out the album with textures that bring her stories to the next level. Though it certainly takes some time to really sink into this album, there’s a lot of payoff for those who put the effort in.
There’s a strong sense that we’re about to open up into a rush of energy as the album sets out on “Hiding” making all the tumbling drums and roaring feedback all the more satisfying. Between all the catchy hooks and the mounting chaotic energy behind the track, Medford pushes Ian Sweet into a fiery new frontier. “Spit” takes such a bright feeling to its aggressive rocking that it’s often disorienting how you’re supposed to feel about the track. In this way however, the track proves to be one of the album’s most fun and interesting listens, as well as a dense track both emotionally and sonically.
This even sinks into the vocals on a more groovy and laidback track like “Holographic Jesus” where Medford plays with perception and peoples’ beliefs. Between the track’s playful dynamics and the strong pointed way that Medford delivers the lyrics, it has this entrancing quality to its delivery. “Bug Museum” challenges your perceptions of everything around you as Ian Sweet move from ambient and hazy productions to surprisingly rhythmic creations that roar with a palpable low-end. This sense of weight carries through a lot of the record, contrasting Medford’s high vocals with a great dynamic range. “Question It” even sees Ian Sweet using this space to have riffs flying out with a careless but exciting fury.
Beats drive the feelings of “Crush Crusher” where a floating arrangements sees beats coming out synthetically an guitars taking a more ethereal direction. While this can feel very anxious and hopelessly directionless, every time they start focusing in there’s a roar to set them forward again. In the seemingly straightforward runs of “Falling Fruit” Ian Sweet break up into these open drops that finds Medford roaring out like a Bully track thrown into a psychedelic blender. “Borrowed Body” however drives its emotions home with a fast and excited energy, stomping fearlessly in upbeat pop shouts. Through all the tense riffs that always seem moments from resolving, Ian Sweet let every chorus break things up beautifully.
In the cold grooves of “Ugly/Bored” there’s a surprisingly honest storytelling that makes its unhinged writing feel so personal and urgent it’s hard to handle at times. The lost feeling in Medford’s vocals feeds back into the burst of noise and give the song this organic kind of ebb and flow. Even the familiar indie pop core of “Your Arms Are Water” soon open up into a deeply warm story that is every bit as personal as it relatable.
Words by Owen Maxwell