|[LICD Review] MTV|
|January 31, 1998, 11:00 pm|
MTV. February 1998. [No Day]
Poor James. The Smashing Pumpkins guitarist is getting a mild case of the cold shoulder from rock critics for his solo debut. These naysayers are right about one thing: this album does not rock you like a hurricane.
"Said Sadly," an Iha-penned b-side from the "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" single, augured what was to come. Veruca Salt's Nina Gordon (who makes a return appearance on "Beauty") sang a duet with Iha on this tender ballad getting such choice lines as "Darling, I'll never be true/You see for so long I was blue/And if I hurt then you will too." Iha wore not a stitch of irony when he replied, "I'm so afraid that no one cares." When Corgan and Co. get emotionally naked, on the other hand, you know there is still a pit of vipers ready in the wings to bite you with distorted guitar angst.
Let It Come Down is a din-weary Iha showing his gentler side. In the accompanying press materials Iha states, "When I go back to the hotel or home on a break, I don't want to play through a Marshall stack." Hence, we get 11 tracks of country-tinged make-out music inspired by the pillow-talking 70's likes of Jackson Browne, Dan Folgerberg, Stephen Stills, and Gram Parsons.
Iha's singing is delicately shy and comes cozily wrapped in warm layers of jangly acoustic guitar, pedal steel, lap steel, hand-clap percussion, and piano. Standout tracks are hard to pick, as they all seem part of one huge diary-styled mediation on relationships. Can you guess the common thread between "Sound Of Love" "Jealousy" "Lover, Lover" and "No One's Gonna Hurt You"? It's as straightforward as it gets, if a touch anonymous.
No one is quitting their day job over this. I don't always expect the withdrawn, yet glamorous eccentric Iha portrays in his vanguard experiments with hair streaking, modeling for Anna Sui, and unusually metaphysical attachment to his dog, Bugg (as evidenced in the Pumpkins' home video Vieuphoria). The fact that he chooses to exhibit his mom-and-apple-pie side as a lovesick softie from the suburbs of Chicago without the backhanded bite of say, Liz Phair, is actually charming as all heck.