Picks and Pans Review: Love Is Hell, Pt. 1 and 2

updated 01/19/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/19/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

ALT-COUNTRY

Ryan Adams

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If Ryan Adams had his way, Love Is Hell would have been released as one proper album instead of being relegated to these two separate EPs. But after his label rejected the full-length work because of creative differences, the singer-songwriter went back into the studio to record a completely different disc, the recently released Rock N Roll. While Rock N Roll is an ampedup garage blast, these downbeat but dreamy Love songs recall the brooding beauty of the ex-Whiskeytown front-man's first solo effort, 2000's Heartbreaker. Both Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 are heavy on austere, acoustic-based balladry that showcases Adams's alt-country roots, bittersweet songwriting and hurts-so-good vocals. He veers into Smiths-like jangle rock on Pt. l's "Love Is Hell," while he does a Stonesesque soul turn on Pt. 2's "Hotel Chelsea Nights." Individually, however, the two EPs lack the impact they would have had as one single CD. Perhaps Adams's label should have taken a cue from OutKast's double disc Speakerboxxx/The Love Below and packaged the complete Love Is Hell along with Rock N Roll.

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