Ian Sweet rediscovers truth in “Crush Crusher”

Taylor Muñoz

Jilian Medford, front woman for the band Ian Sweet, has found her way back down to earth. Her new record, “Crush Crusher,” is the vessel that took her there.  

“Crush Crusher” is a palpable showcase of her raw talent. Under no constraints while re-learning how to tell the truth, Medford has created her most transparent and important work yet.

Released Oct. 26 on by Seattle-based label Hardly Art, “Crush Crusher” is Ian Sweet’s first record following changes in the band’s lineup.

After intense conflict resulted in Ian Sweet’s abrupt shift to a solo act last fall, Medford was left to fend for herself. As it would turn out, this change would be crucial for her personal and musical growth.

Rather than shying away from or sugarcoating the hardships of life, which was a major theme of Ian Sweet’s 2016 debut “Shapeshifter,” Medford is facing them head on in “Crush Crusher.”

A notable representative of Ian Sweet’s musical changes is a reworked, stripped-down version of a song made with former bandmates years ago, titled “Bug Museum.” Initially a noisy song accompanied by Medford’s distorted vocals, it was an apt display of the music Ian Sweet was making at the time.

Now, however, this song represents what Medford has learned to do well on the record as a whole: sticking to basics. This track is pivotal to the record. Reworking it on her own terms, it serves as a reminder the progress Medford has made in her music and life without her former bandmates: a moxie that bleeds into the rest of the album.

“Hiding,” the first single released off the record, touches on themes of abusive and manipulative relationships, on getting so wrapped up in someone else that you become unrecognizable to yourself. She sings, “I forgot myself in you,” repeatedly in the chorus.

The track, which is first on the record, serves as a fitting introduction to Medford’s recollection of her time spent outside of herself.

On “Spit,” the fastest and most emotionally charged song on the record, Medford sings about her participation in self-sabotaging relationships. “Open wide, let me see if I am putting myself in danger again,” she sings, predicting a breakup before it has even happened.

“You had one chance to make me believe that everything I know is just from a dream,” sings Medford on “Ugly/Bored,” a song with an all-too-familiar tale about feeling inferior in relationships.

The record ends with a surprisingly sweet love ballad, “Your Arms Are Water.” Medford coos, “You are the beautiful half of everything” in the chorus, softly commending a love interest.

The track sends listeners off with a final and hopeful message about life and love, a poignant end to Ian Sweet’s most candid work yet.

“Crush Crusher” pushes against Ian Sweet’s past. It challenges the honesty of previous songs that are buried in convoluted metaphor. It is the result of Medford’s darkest and most intense months following her departure from her bandmates.

“Crush Crusher” brings listeners back to the heart of the matter: honesty.