Still House Plants – If I don't make it, I love u

Still House Plants capture the thrill of their live shows on the magnificent If I don’t make it, I love u

Album Review by Joe Creely | 08 Apr 2024
  • Still House Plants – If I don't make it, I love u
Album title: If I don't make it, I love u
Artist: Still House Plants
Label: Bison
Release date: 12 Apr

Having established themselves with a totally singular concoction, marrying inquisitive improvisatory playing with careening, emotive vocals, Still House Plants have become a fixture of the underground and one of the most exciting bands around. Recorded in London, their third album, If I don’t make it, I love u, is marginally more sonically polished, but loses nothing of their angular charm, if anything bringing out more of the thrashy energy and emotional heft of their live shows. 

The record is marked by a feeling of greater weight. Where second album Fast Edit’s guitars were brittle, tumbleweeds to be blown about by Jess Hickie-Kallenbach’s voice, here they are fuller, more muscular. The playing of guitarist Finlay Clark is still clanging and raw, but it fills more space, while David Kennedy’s drums are more pronounced and punchy. It makes the dragging groove of opener M M M an intoxicating mixture of momentous and rickety, and the gnashing of More More Faster’s early stages is as breakneck as they’ve ever sounded. 

Hickie-Kallenbach’s voice and lyrics are more forceful too, matching up to the more beefy instrumentation. She has always had the ability to give just enough shape to the raw feeling in her words for you to build whole scenes around them, but here she sketches in more, becoming more generous in her writing. She pulls back just enough to not overdo it though, maintaining the sense of a private moment overheard through the wall that is so essential to their brilliance. It gives a beating heart to the record's more cerebral edges. 

What this all adds up to is a record that takes their already winning formula and pushes it forward in every way. It makes their previous records sound a touch spindly and faint by comparison. It’s strange. As much as collage was essential to Still House Plants' aims and methods, the new record feels like it gets to the heart of their sound, simply by having the three of them in a room playing. It turns out that literally collaging various sources together for their previous records sounds less like an assemblage than them all playing in a room, such is the improvisatory but perfectly judged shifting tones and textures on display.

If I don't make it, I love u is magnificent, the peak of their recorded output to date, the sound of a band solidifying and pushing forward into something genuinely their own. A truly brilliant piece of work.

Listen to: M M M, MORE BOY, More More Faster