James Iha - Look to the Sky
14 years is a bloody long time to wait for anything. The last time James Iha released an album Google didn't exist, Bill Clinton was President and suffering the embarrassment of Monica Lewinsky, and Will Smith was warming hearts with Just the Two of Us. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN JAMES? My red-striped jumper no longer fits and the thumbholes look like moth scars as it sits idly in the bottom of my wardrobe wasting to nothing.
Needless to say, in my youth the Pumpkins were everything and James Iha is a part of that. It would appear he agrees because Look to the Sky is everything the Pumpkins have been missing in melody and construction since that brutal split all those years ago. No amount of bronchitis is going to make Iha sound like Billy Corgan and this is where the album gains its own precious identity.
With a list of guest stars that read like a who's-who of music the end result is a very well rounded record that sooths the mind and transports you back to a simpler time. Karen O pops up to add some depth to the vocals of Waves, a song which is enchanting and ethereal from beginning to end. Sara Quinn pops up to do the same for To Who Knows Where and Dream Tonight and each track is a carefully cut masterpiece, refined with the finest tools.
A Perfect Circle this is not. Not one single track on this release could be considered rock. That side of James has been firmly locked away in favour of easy listening indie classics. I understand the decision, but a little part of me would love to hear his guitar wielded in anger. It's the only thing this release lacks. It was the pumpkins with Iha on board that showed us you can do easy with guitars drawn, 1979 and Mayonaise are my go to tracks that support my theory.
For fans this album is sweet relief to a long wait and one that will be enjoyed many times over. To newcomers this release would find its home in your CD collections in between The Pumpkins and Belle and Sebastian. It's a precious flower, a special snowflake, and a hybrid of then and now. I love it and I think you will to.