Show Me How You Disappear is a complex tapestry of rock and pop that offers introspective tales through dreamy melodies and a juxtaposition of musical styles. Ian Sweet began as a Los Angeles noise-rock band before becoming Jilian Medford’s solo project. On the third album, Medford deviates from the rock aesthetic of the previous two albums, adding pop stylings and a more diverse palette.
The songs are mostly soft with occasional bursts of power. Ethereal textures wash over the music, Medford’s voice soft and probing. Like her previous work, a lot of the tracks deal with Medford’s mental health struggles, but Show Me How You Disappear has hints of optimism.
“Get Better” serves as the record’s mission statement, Medford pushing away her negative thoughts through positive repetition. “I want to get better, better, better, but in my mind I’m still lying in your bed,” Medford sings, softly strumming a mildly distorted guitar.
The slow, brooding “Dumb Driver” is filled with dramatic tension, from the ghostly vocal effects to the singer’s inability to let go. Medford sings of a struggle to move on from a failed romance. “Once you complicate the Earth, it can’t be undone,” she sings, her voice a raspy whisper. “I want to stop; I want to,” she repeats in the chorus.
The title track is built around a similar tension. “I wash you off of me, but you never leave,” Medford sings, her slow, monotonous guitar lick frequently interrupted by jarring discordant synthesizer and otherworldly noise. Midway into the song, everything takes a turn. The distorted guitar lick is replaced by clean fingerpicking, a pop bass beat enters the song, and Medford comes to the realization that she’s better off without him. “Show me how you go. Go and disappear. You were never here,” she sings.
“Sword” is the most infectious song on the album, with its hip-shaking groove, start and stop rhythms, and synth flourishes. “How do I start to feel less like a deadly weapon after you made me believe I have the sharpest edges?” Medford asks, the guitar tone sounding as if played underwater. As on other songs songs, Medford drives home the point with repetition, in this case repeating the command, “Pay attention.”
Each of the three Ian Sweet albums has its distinct sound and style. Show Me How You Disappear is less raw, angry, and aggressive than the earlier releases. With a dream pop aesthetic and a mood that shifts from depressed to confident, the third album is Medford’s most varied and confident, making up for toning down the noise by dialing up the melody and soul.