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Status: On Haitus
February 7, 1998, 12:00 am    [Unedited; LICD Review] Kerrang!

Source: Kerrang!

Kerrang! February 7, 1998


James Iha, for anyone who has been living in the Gobi desert for the past five years, is the guitarist with the Smashing Pumpkins, those Chicago mavericks who long ago pushed back the boundaries of what was laughingly known as 'grunge' into the realms of the stellar.

'Let It Come Down' is Iha's first solo album, but you won't find any of the Pumpkins' magnitude here. Instead, the guitarist has foresaken star-spangled splendour in favour of a series of laid-back, semi-acoustic strum-alongs that pay homage to pastoral '70s troubadours like Jackson Browne and Jon Mitchell. And God's tits, it's dull.

The clues have been there all along. While Billy Corgan was busy breathing life into the corpse of pomp rock, Iha seemed content to aimlessly churn out pleasant little ditties like 'Take Me Down' and 'Believe'. While Corgan name-checked Black Sabbath and Cheap Trick and Pink Floyd, the guitarist talked about Fleetwood f**king Mac. Jesus. Roll over Jon Bon Jovi and tell Michael Bolton the news.

It comes as no surprise then, that 'Let It Come Down' is airy, wistful and scrotum-twistingly bland. It's lift music with half the charisma and none of the balls. We don't want screaming solo's hacked out on flaming twin-necked 'axes', but something resembling excitement would have been nice.

The 11 songs that make up '...Come Down' are so grimly tasteful and uniformly bland, they could package them in cardboard and make a killing at Ikea. As the supremely weedy 'Be Strong Now' limps out of the speakers, the alarms are tripped and warning lights begin to flash. This ain't rock'n'roll,. This is death by syrup.

Elsewhere, the picture is equally bleak. Iha sleepwalks through 'See The Sun' and 'Lover Lover', his seven-stone waif of a voice clinging to their soft-focus refrains like a damp shower curtain while flashes of Hammond organ and melodica send them plunging depp into country-rock hell. The malevolent spirit of a lap-steel guitar lurks in the darkest recesses of 'Country Girl', drifting mournfully into earshot whenever Iha needs a little more emotional leverage. He even has the gall to groan 'Oooh, oooh, oooh,' during the prolonged dry heave of 'Silver String', not realising it doesn't even come close to the agony we're going through.

Granted, the Summery lift of 'Sound Of Love' is very nearly lovely. and he stirs from his stupor for the pacy MOR jangle of 'Jealousy'. But when the only justification you've got for the waste of precoius natural resources is an old Lemonheads cast-off and a watered-down Tom Petty impression, you know you're in trouble.

Smashing Pumpkins fans will hate 'Let It Come Down'. Any sparks of bravery it shows for refusing to conform with expectations are promptly stamped out by its Olympian standards of insipidity and world-beating tedium. 'Do you see beauty' asks the gargantuanly grey 'Beauty', 'do you see love, do you see anything at all?'.

Hmm. Now you're asking.