“I feel the indie rock world actually feeds off trauma,” Jilian Medford mentioned in press supplies for her new album, SUCKER. “In case you’re not going by one thing horrible, persons are like, ‘What’s the story?’” Even when it turns into comparatively clearer by the point of launch, selling it may be exhausting: Medford’s earlier effort as IAN SWEET, the charming and resonant Present Me How You Disappear, was written whereas she was in an outpatient remedy program for anxiousness, and he or she discovered herself being pigeonholed as a “psychological well being advocate girlie” after it got here out. However making that document saved part of her, and her newest opens with an acknowledgment of the mortal sense of urgency that may include writing music. “What if I die with this tune in my head and I by no means get to sing it?” she wonders on ‘Bloody Knees’, sufficient occasions that the thought good points extra weight than the connection at it revolves round. When it might save one’s life, isn’t that, greater than any single narrative or persona, the factor price treasuring?
This is probably not the mindset or depth that drives the whole thing of SUCKER, however it seems like the mandatory place to begin, a transition from one album to the subsequent. It’s much less about surviving by a disaster than the enjoyment and catharsis of attending to sing about it. With a brand new sense of assurance and safety, Medford foregoes a number of the trappings of indie rock confessionalism by leaning into her pop sensibilities; on the identical time, she strays from pop’s mainstreaming of development and therapeutic by proclaiming she’s “thus far” from getting there on the title observe. She’s nonetheless uniquely gifted at writing lyrically chaotic, self-destructive anthems – “I’ve been a multitude/ Haven’t slept/ Began smoking once more” – however it sounds extra like she’s coming at them from the opposite aspect, self-aware sufficient to have enjoyable and be a bit of dramatic about it. You might virtually name it lighthearted.
Refreshing as they might be, although, it’s not the driving hooks and anthemic build-ups that present the largest launch. ‘Comeback’, a tune devoted to her mom, who took care of her as she recovered from her psychological well being disaster, is quietly earnest, gliding by reminiscences of childhood innocence and in direction of a placing realization: “Want that I might bury it/ All this deadwеight, heartache, unhealthy goals, can’t sleep/ Dropping strеak, now you’re shedding me.” SUCKER is Medford reclaiming herself at the same time as she sings about messing up, a degree she houses in on by following up ‘Comeback’ with one of many punchiest and most thrilling pop songs on the LP, ‘Your Spit’. It’s “largely about making out,” Medford has mentioned, and the “largely” makes itself felt each within the acquainted dread creeping by her lyrics (“I’m afraid this might all go away”) and her playfully manipulated vocals.
SUCKER advantages from Medford’s extra spontaneous and fast songwriting method, however it’s these little tweaks and emotional shifts that usually make the document come alive. It by no means feels stagnant. The artist needed to let go of emotions of self-doubt round her personal work in sharing it with co-producers Alex Craig and Unusual Ranger’s Isaac Eiger, who add texture and broaden its palette of influences. Coldplay stay an everlasting reference level for Medford, and a big a part of SUCKER feels particularly, lovingly indebted to A Rush of Blood to the Head, from its unusual confidence to its haunting guitar work. However whereas she could have gone so far as to cowl ‘Yellow’ and recreate its video again in 2021, this new album is rather more intent on capturing the evolution of her personal musical and emotional language, which songs like ‘Clear’ and ‘Exhausting’ reveal of their subtlest musical touches. “Day-after-day’s the identical/ I ran out of issues to say,” she admits on ‘FIGHT’, however ‘Exhausting’ closes the album with a coronary heart stuffed with longing, of wanting nothing however a love curiosity to maintain going till they gush out each single element. “You mentioned you’ve by no means felt extra alive,” Medford sings, altering her cadence solely barely every time she repeats it. That’s the type of factor you keep for.