James Iha
Let It Come Down


1.5
very poor

Review

by Nathaniel USER (36 Reviews)
February 12th, 2008 | 15 replies | 5,891 views


Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Disregard anything else he's ever done before listening or... you know what, better yet, just don't listen.

1 of 1 thought this review was well written

Any who are familiar with the name James Iha likely won't hesitate in conjuring up images of the quirky Asian guitarist that used to be with the Smashing Pumpkins. In fact, throughout the 90's it is undeniable that Iha was the "Yang" (no pun intended) to Billy Corgan's "Yin". While the details to Iha's contribution to the band's songwriting are arguable, there is no question that his input, as great or as little as it may have been, was vital to the signature sound (naysayers see: Zeitgeist). Songs like Blew Away from Pisces Iscariot or Take Me Down, the closer to the first disc of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness are only two of a number of songs written (and sung) solely by Iha. Still, even then there was a dreamy serenity to these tracks that were very fitting into the Pumpkins' mold at the time.

Outside of the Smashing Pumpkins, some may be familiar with his work with A Perfect Circle, among whom Iha has been photographed and contributed to with and without written acknowledgement in the credits. A re-vamped version of Blue from the aMOTION remix disc bears his involvement and the outfit sported his company in both the tour for Thirteenth Step and in the recording studio for the cover album eMOTIVe. Though these are possibly the more popular of James Iha appearances, there is a list of other smaller, lesser known side works that the ex-Pumpkin has occupied himself with. So, naturally, I can't say that I was surprised to find that there was also a solo album under his name out there to listen to. Upon stumbling over it a few years back, I jumped at the thought of what might be offered here. After all, taking his output otherwise into consideration, it would be safe to assume that this one would be a nice little gem full of some signature Iha to add to the collection. Right?

Wrong. Very, very wrong.

Let It Come Down is the first and thus far the only solo release from James Iha. Released back in 1998 before the release of Adore while he was still with the Pumpkins, this may as well have been the official breaking point in the demise of the band. Not only does this release not prove up to par with any of his prior songs written for the Pumpkins, it seems for the most part to propel itself in the opposite direction as though foreshadowing his departure some short years afterward. This is not to say that the album is bad simply because it is not a Smashing Pumpkins record, but rather because it sounds much like a half-baked, pop-oriented, entirely acoustic mishmash threateningly close to country-folk with a sickeningly sunny disposition similar to Hanson's breakthrough single MmmBop.

No. Seriously.

Essentially this album is made up of eleven tracks built on, at best, two separate ideas that I am hard pressed to claim have a respectable amount of variation, if any whatsoever. On one side you have a collection of radio-ready pop numbers and on the other a lousy mess of lethargic lullaby ballads. In fact, for the most part, you can differentiate the two easily if you simply separate the first half of the album (the jingles) from the latter half (the ballads). It's that dull. Other than the divide between the "upbeat" and the "not-upbeat", everything else is pretty much a constant drone of little variation and there is an absolutely dismal absence of interesting material here.

Every song is an acoustic number, none of which demonstrate Iha's true ability in any degree, and each drags on with his unremarkable draw toward tonal instability and whiny baritone drone of a voice acting as the only "driving force". Thankfully, oftentimes Iha is accompanied by other vocal harmonies, including the equally boring D'arcy Wretsky in One and Two, but never is it nearly enough to mask his poor performance into sounding tolerable. More than ever before Iha also executes his awful straining head voice as in the majority of back to back tracks Country Girl and Jealousy, a duo of songs so excruciatingly bad that I have a difficult time believing this is the same James.

The album slights at the idea of redeeming itself in some of the slower, more intimate songs where Iha strays away from catchy chorus lines and sticks to his baritone register. However, the majority (if not entirety) can be found at the back end of the album starting with Lover, Lover up until the final track No One's Going to Hurt You. By the end of the five tracks it is much easier to forget about the garbage dominating the first half of the record, but a new frustration presents itself. Each track here seems like an amnesiac afterthought reminiscent of great Pumpkins ballads but each and every one ends up falling a good distance short of being able to captivate the listener in the same way. There are a number of times Iha comes dangerously close to drawing a parallel to, say the aforementioned Take Me Down, but by the time the disc ends it's impossible to ignore that you've listened to the same generic ballad five times over.

I have a great deal of respect for James Iha and I know for a fact that he is a talented artist and musician. Unfortunately, Let It Come Down feels like a deliberate pull away from the Pumpkins, one that achieves only some embarrassingly bad tracks. The slower songs are not nearly as awful but they come off more like another breed of bad than a particular kind of good. The singing here is quite horrific, and keep in mind we're talking about a guy who sided next to Billy Corgan's shrill cry for a good while. There's an abundance of acoustic guitar strumming that rarely deviates into anything interesting, if you count the gimmicky keys and hand drums that show up in brief instances as interesting.

I've tried very hard through my listens to find at least one track that stood out as impressive to me and the truth is that I have found none. Standards and expectations aside, this is inexcusable, especially for the artist in question.


Recommended Tracks:
Lover, Lover



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Comments:Add a Comment 
rasputin
February 12th 2008



14504 Comments


good review. I really liked iha's voice on the pumpkins cover of the cure's a night like this, so yeah, i dont think his voice is that bad.

cometuesday
February 12th 2008



959 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

It's pretty bad here. I've never thought he was a very talented singer to begin with but I always enjoyed the songs he did before this.

rasputin
February 12th 2008



14504 Comments


yeah, I've liked all the other stuff he's done.

TheGreatD17
February 12th 2008



1141 Comments


I listened to some of this; it's nothing great but I don't think I dislike it nearly as much as you do, some of the tracks are quite nice.

Oblivioncry
February 12th 2008



601 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

i found this once in our library...it isnt that bad...but also nothing special..i expected more.

foreverendeared
February 12th 2008



14678 Comments


i wouldnt say this is all that horrible. while i havent listened to this in several years, i remember liking a few songs off this album. enough that i would prolly rate it at least a 2.5

elbrando
February 12th 2008



18 Comments


I bought the album hoping for somethings SP-ish and was sorely disappointed. It sat on my shelf for about a year before I finally decided to give it another listen. Once I wasn't expecting the SPs I actually quite enjoyed it. I don't normally go for romantic folk-pop with a country twinge, which is what I'd describe this album as, but it just seems like such a sincere album that I can't help liking it. I mean of all the albums Iha could've made, he chose to do this. Fascinating. It's sunshiney and dreamy, and a real pleasure to listen to when you're in a chilled out space. So I disagree with the review, I'd give it at least a 3.

AtavanHalen
February 12th 2008



17927 Comments


I really loved Be Strong Now.
Review's okay.

DaveBum69
April 1st 2008



699 Comments


nice zeitgeist reference, its true no one gives him any credit as far as writing in the pumpkins, I heard a little bit off this and it was pretty meh

joesmoe4000
April 25th 2010



314 Comments


was very disappointed with this expected more with all the great song writing he did for the pumpkins and you're right atavanhalen he doesn't get the credit that he deserves for his song writing with the pumpkins because without him they are Sh*t.

Digging: RATKING - So It Goes

NEVERfade
September 13th 2010



376 Comments


This is ..................., I really wish he had of agreed to rejoin The Smashing Pumpkins

Stratisfaction666
April 29th 2013



25 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Liked the album. Cool review.

Stratisfaction666
April 29th 2013



25 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Liked the album. Cool review.

Stratisfaction666
April 29th 2013



25 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Liked the album. Cool review.

Stratisfaction666
April 29th 2013



25 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Liked the album. Cool review.



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