REVIEW: 'Crush Crusher', IAN SWEET

by Anna Claire White

Just looking at the cover of Crush Crusheryou can tell IAN SWEET has evolved since their 2016 debut, Shapeshifter (Hardly Art). Crush Crusher’s sleeve features a tableau of frontwoman Jilian Medford in a blocky, blood-red landscape, reclined in a puddle of tulle—a scene that feels worlds away from the pastel-and-black illustrative cacti of Shapeshifter.

This visual difference reflects band’s sonic progression: Crush Crusher retains IAN SWEET’s characteristic playful geometry, full of dizzily staggering rhythms and calculated voice cracks, but somehow manages to come across as more 3-D. Crush Crusher feels more personal than Medford’s previous work. It presents listeners with a window into Medford’s personal insecurities, anxiety-laced infatuation highlighted rather than obscured by glossy guitar swells. There are moments that are unequivocally romantic, like the chorus of “you are the beautiful half of everything” on the album’s final track “Your Arms Are Water,” but more often than not it feels like Medford is thinking herself in circles, self-critical and uncertain. “I don’t know if this is what I want,” Medford admits on “Falling Fruit,” and she doesn’t provide us with an easy answer to what that might be.

Crush Crusher instead feels like Medford laying out all the facts, showing emotions and specific memories, and allowing listeners to draw their own conclusions.

Listen to Crush Crusher on Spotify below