Fall is finally in the air, which means the aphrodisiac aromas of pumpkin spice latte, wet leaves, and basement-scented Christmas decorations are also in full swell. In a parallel sensory universe, listeners are cozying up with dense-yet-palatable guitar-driven rock songs—and that’s where IAN SWEET comes in.
The project of LA-based songwriter Jilian Medford has just released its second collection of such wooly rock songs, Crush Crusher—and while Medford’s singing voice sometimes gets swallowed by her shred-woven Autumn sweater, the record’s audible lyrics tend to swirl around the topic of romantic interests. Neither a rueful breakup album nor a sappy meet-cute, Crusher is an intricate look at relationships in the past, present, and future tenses, channeling vague existentialism (“I never believed in dying / Until I met you”), gross-out poetry (“You’ll go, and I’ll get swallowed / By someone else’s spit”), and literal recollection (“Did I ever ask what you thought / About that day we fucked in the parking lot?”) under Medford’s pristine, bleacher-reaching guitar.
Believe it or not, though, IAN SWEET isn’t the first artist to write songs about crushes. Compiled here are ten tracks hand-picked by Medford about crushing (and getting crushed by) crushes, ranging across all four seasons. Listen below, and read Medford’s thoughts on each track beneath the playlist.
Tirzah — “Gladly”
I’ve been listening to the record Devotion by Tirzah non-stop since it came out. It harps on the insecurities that come with growing up and learning more about yourself in relationships. It’s an extremely powerful and resonant record. This is one of my favorite songs from it, and it’s about gladly giving all of yourself to someone, without hesitation.
Brian Eno — “I’ll Come Running”
I think this is my favorite song of all time. The lyric “I’ll come running to tie your shoe” sums up how powerful it is to love someone unconditionally. I reference this song in my song “Crush Crusher”—the lyrics are, “It’s all you’re protected by, magic / You don’t know how it happened / Suddenly you close your eyes / And your shoes are tied / No one has to come running.”
Sugarcubes — “Leash Called Love”
You love him
You want to make him happy
He loves you
He wants to humiliate you
He’s a bastard!
You should leave him!
To hell with him
He’s dragging you
On a leash called love
This Sugarcubes song is such a genius way of representing manipulation in toxic relationships.
Darlene McCrea — “My Heart’s Not in It”
I have tried to put myself out there and try to feel things for different people after not being completely over someone and it can make the breakup process so much harder. This song sums up that experience that everyone can relate to.
Animal Collective — “Purple Bottle”
I had a crush on someone in high school who would wear an Animal Collective t-shirt…and that’s how I found out about the band. I would blast this song in my room at my parents house and flail my body all around. This song defined high school for me. It felt like I didn’t stop listening to it for four years straight. It’s been a very powerful guiding love song for me. Every time I revisit it I completely surrender to its power.
Yo La Tengo — “You Can Have It All”
Yo La Tengo has totally perfected love and heartbreak songs for me… The melancholic atmosphere of their love songs is what I connect to the most. Sometimes you don’t feel like shouting about your experience with love, but rather just claiming it in a quiet, kind manner.
Crass — “What the Fuck?”
CRASS IS THE BEST BAND EVER! And Penis Envy changed the way I listen to music.
Joni Mitchell — “All I Want”
Joni could sing anything and I would feel like the sun is out and the birds are chirping. I was in a Joni Mitchell ensemble in music school and sang this song for one of our final performances. Given the opportunity to sing Joni was completely nerve-racking but I channeled her energy and tried my best to pay homage to the queen.
Portishead — “Sour Times”
These lyrics are some one of the most relatable lyrics to me. Repeating something to yourself that feels so doom and gloom—not for pity, but for the sake of setting yourself up for the failures of loving someone with no return.
Duster — “Gold Dust”
This song sounds like what being in love feels like to me. FL