Album Review: Ian Sweet – ‘Show Me How You Disappear”
Posted: by The Editor
On Ian Sweet’s new record, Show Me How You Disappear, Jilian Medford finally takes ownership of a stage that has always been hers, no longer weighed down by the doubts of those close to her. Shortly before the release of Ian Sweet’s 2018 record Crush Crusher, Medford made the call to end the project, leaving it as a solo project for herself. The men in her band were demanding and didn’t respect Medford, often making misogynistic comments. The decision was better for her as a person, but also for the music – It’s only gotten better since that choice was made.
“Drink the Lake” may be the most recent pinnacle for Ian Sweet. The forlorn, pastel track is effortlessly catchy and feels like a sonic departure for the project. “I’ll start saying your name backwards so I’ll forget it” – this cold, metallic incantation Medford whispers is complemented expertly by the haunted chiming of the drum machine. By the song’s end, you might truly come away thinking that this act of rewinding someone’s very name could eliminate them from the recess of your mind. Medford sells it, the fully committed star of her own episode of the Twilight Zone.
On “Power,” Medford lets her vocals take a journey from coming across as airy as taffeta, to solidifying its toughness, becoming steel wool by the end. Beginning as a straightforward idea, built on a foundation of acoustic guitar, it doesn’t take long for it to become encased in cold drums, that guitar mutating into something much heavier. Its central lyric “I want to feel the power of knowing nothing / I feel the power of holding no one” is a mantra for existing in solitude just to prove to yourself that you can. She sounds like Adrianne Lenker trapped inside of Bjork’s Post.
“Sword” and “Dumb Driver” were both our first tastes of this record, and the two earliest written for it. Both tracks were released in 2020, but are hardly cut from the same cloth. “Sword” is glossy, built around a mangled, brass synth, Medford telling us that her “body is like a sword / it gets sharper when it gets ignored.” It has the slick pop feel of something that could play in an H&M, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. “Dumb Driver” is a meandering tune, resignedly roaming. It feels like if it were dialed up more, it would evolve from pretty dream-pop to a dark wash of shoegaze. It’s about running headfirst into love, claiming what we want without taking heed, seeing if this choice is good for us. This propulsion is echoed nicely by the sonics of its chorus.
The tracks that comprise Disappear are brimming with meaning both on the surface and buried within each choice. It isn’t Medford’s first album as a solo outfit, but it feels like her first true statement of intent. The music is made to carry mantras that she can repeat to herself and that she can share with the listener. Mantras are a deeply important aspect of Medford’s healing, and it feels only natural that they’ve left an impact on her music. This is a record that deals with her overcoming trauma and anxiety, using her music to let her new truths push forth, and that catharsis is often palpable.
Disappointing / Average/ Good / Great /Phenomenal
Eric Bennett | @seething_coast
The Alternative is ad-free and 100% supported by our readers. If you’d like to help us produce more content and promote more great new music, please consider donating to our Patreon page, which also allows you to receive sweet perks like free albums and The Alternative merch.