Self-penned, self-played and self-recorded in his home, Ian Love's long-playing solo debut is a wordly, wise love letter to wonder. Like a sweeter cousin to Neutral Milk Hotel, the disc exudes a low-key alt-pop aesthetic that nicely tempers Love's fearless sentimentality. The foot-shuffling "The Only Night" starts things off wearing its heart low on the cuff, recounting a moment of emotional epiphany, but the self-doubt and introspection of "Sky To Fall" and the pumping "Turn Off" add more gravity and intrigue to the proceedings. It's a work of hard-won optimism, which may be the sturdiest kind.
New York native Ian Love spent his teenage years lurking around the hardcore scene, playing with overlooked NYHC greats Burn, moving on to strum for emo faves Rival Schools and eventually fronting Cardia. Drawing on those lessons—along with surviving the worsethan-near-death experience of heroin addiction, getting married and having a daughter— Love's first solo outing bears the sincerity of a man who has found a good reason to be grateful for living. His gentle alto coasts above acoustic guitar-driven melodies embellished with piano, mellotron and more. Avoiding both Elliott Smith's weariness and Sam Beam's folkiness, the album recalls the former's intimacy and the latter's warmth, perhaps due to Love writing and recording entirely at home around his family (at times, with his newborn daughter resting on his shoulder). The vocals occasionally wander off key and the arrangements subtly stumble, but Love has learned to cherish his imperfections. Life's too short to sweat the little things.
Singing-wise Ian Love emulates Maroon 5’s frontman but he paints lyrics that are more poetry than pop magnets. With subtle arrangements that are surprisingly deep and rich, Ian Love has a storied and checkered past. A heroin addict at a young age, he almost committed suicide but eventually wound up in rehab. You’ve probably heard Ian’s music before in the form of his former bands Rival Schools and Cardia. Here he presents his solo album, an indie pop affair that is breathy and atmospheric but still manages to be intimate and engaging. With an album this great, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that it was released on one of my favorite indie labels Limekiln Records in Philadelphia.
Born and raised NYC-er Ian has had one heckuva life (junkie by 17, rehab, joined the circus, sold cars, followed Phish on tour now raising a family, etc.) and I don’t know a damn thing about his other bands (Rival Schools or Cardia) but his solo debut is one fine platter. The guy has a knack for subtle yet effective arrangements with a smooth finger-picked guitar style (occasionally reminding me of Nick Drake or Jeff Buckley) . The opening “The Only Night” was a lovely tune and a perfect way to begin which leads right into the nearly-as-good “Sky to Fall.” The handclaps that being “Turn Off” seem to begin a new revolution, one in which Ian Love is on top of the hill and James Blount is fed to the lions. Ok, so I don’t really wanna feed Mr. Blount to the lions but at the very least place him in a room w/ Ian Love and have Ian show him how it’s done.