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[LICD Review] New York Post
January 31, 1998, 11:00 pm

Source: New York Post

New York Post. February 1998. [No Day]

The Smashing Pumpkins are revered as godlike thinkers of modern music, so Lord help anyone who doesn't fully appreciate the band. That said, Pumpkins guitarist James Iha takes one of the biggest musical chances of the decade - maybe of his life - with a totally non-Pumpkins sound evoid of any of the smashing-guitar crunch he's famous for.

On his first solo disc, Iha is a wild child full of grace who wants to do everything except what's expected of him. "Let It Come Down" is angst-free pop which, with varying degrees of success, tries to be what the Smashing Pumpkins aren't. Iha's songs strive for romanticism and a sense of lyrical sway, all powered on a strummed acoustic rather than being six-string electric thunder pushed through a stack of amps.

This isn't an album that will make Iha a solo star, but it sounds like he had fun recording it.

Where his Pumpkins-patch noodlings are hard and edgy, this 11-song collection features sing-song melodies and near-folk yearnings. Iha does ask a lot when he requests us to take the one-two, sticky-sweet punch of "Lover, Lover" and "Silver String" seriously; but Iha also mines a few gems, including the strum-a-thon "Country Girl" and the disc's only hard candy (with a soft core), "Jealousy."

Iha, who has gone on record as being a closet Crosby, Stills & Nash fan, lets his folk flag fly here. Most will have trouble with his sappy lyrics; but, on a debut solo, you want to cut the guy a little slack, even when he's stuck in a saccharine muck.

In a year, most won't remember this album; but if you have the cash to take a chance with a musician trying to break out of his pigeonhole existence in the shadow of Pumpkins-head Billy Corgan, then this is a nice little diversion.

Listen for the song "Winter." On this one, Iha makes his boldest musical statement. It's a tune that starts with an ethereal melody that eventually builds into forceful power pop. Pumpkins fans, be warned: These songs are featherweights compared with the rest of the S.P. songbook.