Though Courtney Love tends to periodically go full supernova, her collaborators are often able to lead productive lives once they’re thrown clear of the blast zone. LT Wade is one of them. After playing with Love in 2007, around the time when she was working on a solo album that has yet to materialize, the English musician was a member of the London groups Lord Auch and Furs, and toured with Johnny Marr and Gaz Coombes, among others. Then he moved to San Francisco in 2016 and began writing the songs on Transient, his solo debut.
It sounds like a California album, full of hazy vocals on songs that slide by like scenery on the freeway. Wade has a way with dreamy sounds, mixing airy synthesizers with guitar, bass and drums on “My Sun and Stars” and singing as if from a distance on “As the Sky Fills Up Everywhere,” which switches halfway through from gauzy synths to an ascending guitar riff. He indulges a nostalgic streak on “We’ll Never Be Those Kids Again,” wistfully singing the refrain over ethereal synths and crisp drums. Wade lays effects-treated vocals over effects-treated guitars on “So Long,” and pares back the instrumentation to piano and moaning saxophone on “A Summers Dream,” which he delivers with hoarse insistence. It’s not all melancholia and vague yearning: a bouncy guitar riff lends a bright edge to “Hard to Know,” and a clacking beat powers “Hell of a Night” as the song builds to include klaxon-like keyboards.
Too often, Wade’s fondness for atmospherics works against him. He never strays far from a fairly narrow melodic comfort zone, and his habit of repeating phrases in a similar cadence from one song to the next, and fading them into a wash of keyboards or guitars, means the tunes blend together in a way that makes them indistinct. Transient is a respectable first solo effort: pleasant enough to listen to in the moment, but not so memorable that you’ll need to come back again and again.