Quick Review (LP): Love Is Hell by Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams
Love Is Hell
Lost Highway; 2004

My Rating: A- (81/100)

Best Tracks: "This House Is Not For Sale", "Wonderwall", "The Shadowlands", "English Girls Approximately", "Anybody Wanna Take Me Home"

Slows things down, starts to find his way.


  • Strong opener with "Political Scientist." Amazing lyrics.
  • Great atmosphere on this record. It’s a rainy day record, but its still got a big rock sound.
  • Love that guitar riff on "This House Is Not For Sale." Slowing things down helps quite a bit.
  • "Anybody Wanna Take Me Home" is a fantastic jangle-pop track. Seriously, it’s worthy of early REM, and that’s saying a lot from me.
  • The story goes that Adams’ version of "Wonderwall" is so good that Noel Gallagher just gave it to him one night. It’s solid, but I still prefer the Oasis version.
  • Good grief, "The Shadowlands" is gorgeous. One of his best.
  • "I See Monsters" has an amazing sound. It points towards some of the work he’d do on Cold Roses.
  • "English Girls Approximately" is a great little love song that I’m sure has launched a thousand mixtapes. The explosions of guitar echo at the end are the perfect way to close the track.
  • Not every track is brilliant, but even the lesser ones are pretty good. A major and much needed recovery from the disaster that was Rock N Roll.
  • The lushness of this record is one of its most appealing aspects. It’s very acoustic and lovely and ornate, jangly and hyper-melodic. I’m thinking it’s a masterpiece.
  • Overall, I think this record makes the case that Adams is a visionary, though an inconsistent and undisciplined one. Maybe he is more of a reckless genius?

Cohesion (5/5)
Consistency (4/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Songs (4.5/5)

5 Things: “Wonderwall” by Oasis

5 Things I Love About “Wonderwall” by Oasis…

1. Liam’s non-dynamic vocal – he sounds like a bratty three year old in a grown man’s body, but it wouldn’t sound right otherwise. Even complete knuckleheads are born to do something great.
2. The cello…in my mind, it makes this the definitive recording of the song, even above the Ryan Adams version, but it manages to lurk in the background rather than stealing center stage from Noel’s genius acoustic patterns.
3. Somewhere in Europe, there is a college dropout with an acoustic guitar covering this song in a touristy, open air setting.
4. The utterly ubiquitous and gloriously ambiguous refrain: “And all the roads we have to walk are winding/And all the lights that lead us there are blinding.” It’s always true, but somehow, it manages to defy cliche…
5. It’s a masterpiece of impressionist pop songwriting. Fifteen years on, and it’s still anybody’s guess what a “wonderwall” is, yet we all sing it like we know.