Look To The Sky
added: 31 Oct 2012
// release date: 5 Nov 2012 // label: The End Records
reviewer: David Spencer
James Iha has waited 15 years to record his second solo album, after recording Let it Come Down back in 1998 with Smashing Pumpkins riding high as one of the biggest alternative rock bands in the world. During the opening few tracks of Look To The Sky you wonder why he has waited so long, or maybe he has been storing up some of this little pop nuggets for this occasion.
For those unfamiliar with the guitarist’s interests, the sound of the album will come as quite a surprise. There are no angry sneering Smashing Pumpkins moments, more a melodic Beatles-esque collection of dreamy pop. The influence of Iha’s recent work with electronic artists is evident throughout, on an album that has a slightly eighties feel.
Once the delicate guitar strumming of opener Make Believe is out of the way, there are the delightful keyboard driven moments of Prefab Sprout-like Gemini, Til next Tuesday and the should-be-a-single Speed of Love, which features Fountain of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger. He is just one of many friends called in to help, with Nina Persson from The Cardigans featuring on several tracks, as well as Julia Kent from Anthony and the Johnsons (Cello on 4th of July) and Television’s Tom Verlaine (guitar on Appetite and Til Next Tuesday).
It is on the more melodic pop tracks that Iha’s slightly thin vocals work best, and on To Who Knows Where, which has echoes of The Cure at the pomp. But the electronic experimentation goes too far on Appetite, with its clunking piano and fuzzy guitar. In fact that track marks a turning point on the album, where the flow of good songs slows up, but such a cracking pace would be hard to continue through all 13 tracks.
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