Top positive review
27 of 27 people found this helpful
on 10 February 2007
On more than one occasion, record labels and PR people have made the wrong choice. The Rolling Stones were signed to Decca entirely because the man who signed them didn't want to make the same mistake twice, having previously passed on the Beatles. Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album is famous both as their masterpiece, and as the album that Warners paid for twice, because Wilco made it, Reprise rejected it, and then Nonesuch bought it. It's now their biggest seller.
And so it is with Love Is Hell by wayward alt-country wonderboy Ryan Adams. When he first made it, Lost Highway rejected it as too depressing, instead putting it out as two ridiculous album-length EPs, while Adams responded by recording the sporadically great but mostly awful Rock 'n' Roll album. Then, the following year, his label relented, finally allowing Adams to release the album 'as he intended it.' His label are morons.
The release of this was somewhat of a low blow for Adams fans because they already have all but one of these songs on the EPs, and it's a blow for Adams himself because it proves how little his label apparently respects his opinion. That is irrelevant to the quality of the music however - and the music is the best collection he's produced to date.
The single parallel you can draw with his previous work is that the chiming, twangy guitar tone on show here is the same one that he employed on Rock 'n' Roll. Other than that, this otherworldy album is the most unique thing in his catalogue. Opener 'Political Scientist' is quite simply the finest song he's ever written, an utterly stunning, sweeping epic. Nothing here equals it, but it's pretty much uniformly great.
His famous cover of Oasis' 'Wonderwall' is lovely, all subtle acoustic guitars and atmosphere rather than the great, but blunt, original. 'Afraid Not Scared' is lovely, a fine vocal on Adams' part holding it together, ditto for 'Does Anybody Want To Take Me Home?'. 'This House Is Not For Sale' canters along on a well-strummed acoustic guitar.
This whole album is based on great songs which are as much about mood as they are about melody. This album is dark, depressing, claustrophobic, his label was right about that, and as always is slightly overlong; but it's also heartbreaking, beautiful, and the greatest album Adams has yet released.