James Iha – Let It Come Down – Review

James Iha

Let It Come Down (Virgin)
by Jamie Kiffel

Given my choice between Simon and Garfunkel’s “Feelin’ Groovy” and Alice in Chains’ “Godsmack,” I generally aim for the more pathological of the two (allow me to clarify: I choose “Godsmack,” although I recognize that both would be acceptable responses if this were Trivial Pursuit and not my life that we’re talking about. I may have pathologies, but they aren’t that serious). In any case, in spite of this preference, I do enjoy some gentle music from time to time. I admit to occasionally belting out the line, “WHISKERS ON KITTENS” while otherwise placidly viewing a late-night showing of The Sound of Music. Incidentally, I love cats, and cats appreciate gentleness. I’ve read that you can significantly lower your blood pressure and ultimately extend your life expectancy by just sitting calmly with a purring cat on your lap. I’ve also seen certain souls who claim to be “cat people” widening their eyes, stooping low, and slowly skulking toward my cat while emitting a series of sounds that closely resemble piercing electronic feedback, only to be emotionally (and occasionally, mortally) wounded when my cat leaps at their face in an attempt to reconfigure it. As I said, I love cats.

My point is: a little gentleness can be pleasant, but too much of it can be lethal. James Iha‘s new solo release unfortunately falls on the side of severe feline damage. Meandering guitars keep the emotion and sound level so low that I wonder if Iha’s target audience is a rest home for shellshocked monks. Some typical lyrics are as follows: “Hallelujah! I’m in love with a girl from the country/She’s got not money.” This might work with a syncopated swing rhythm, or with Van Morrison’s “I’m so cool that I can even sing sappy stuff like this” voice, or even better yet, with a different tune, alternate lyrics, and a guest vocalist. To add insult to the injury that is this disc, Iha’s “doot-doots” and “ooh, ooh”s are often out of tune. If you are the type who honestly does not feel that R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” would be an ideal soundtrack to ingest poisoned Lik-M-Aid to, then be my guest and check out Iha’s new release. I will warn you, however, for your own safety: Lock the cat out first.