Audio Mixer: Chris Thompson .
Recording information: Big Nice Studio.
Nervy Los Angeles-based indie trio Ian Sweet began on the East Coast as the solo project of singer/guitarist Jillian Medford. Recording first under the high school nickname of Ian, Medford chanced into a collaborative partnership with drummer Tim Cheney and bassist Damien Scalise, and they eventually rechristened themselves Ian Sweet. Their complex, jittery pop approach soon netted them a deal with Hardly Art, which issued their self-titled debut EP in the summer of 2016. Mere months later came Shapeshifter, the group's full-length debut and a vibrant showcase for all of the weirdness they have to offer. Melodically complex, yet oddly hooky, Ian Sweet's songs cycle through elements of fuzzy lo-fi, dream pop, shimmering psych, and vintage alt-pop. At the prow, cutting through it all, is Medford's frenetic guitar playing and shapeshifting voice, which veers between lush, airy delicacy and cracked squealing. Skittering anxiously from theme to theme -- skating, mental health, Nickelodeon TV, Michael Jordan -- their song structures reflect the restlessness of Medford's lyrical style. Sonically adventurous from the start, "Pink Marker" begins the album with a gentle ricochet of tape-manipulated guitars before segueing into the buzzy math pop of "Slime Time Live." Fluttering, heavily-chorused guitars abound on most tracks, including the busy yet beguiling title cut and the dreamily off-kilter "2soft2chew." At times, Shapeshifter reflects its name a little too closely, never settling on an idea long enough for it to become established. Still there's something likeable about Ian Sweet's manic brand of art pop, and for a trio, they produce an impressive amount of melodious, if somewhat difficult, noise. ~ Timothy Monger