Thankfully not the sound of a dripping tap...
Thankfully not the sound of a dripping tap, but 15 rather depressed lo-fi tunes from Red Hot Chili Peppers’ notoriously errant guitarist. A veteran of the needle and the damage done, Frusciante has authored two previous solo albums – strange and fractured visions of a man on the edge – and his recent cleaned-up-and-revved-up return to the Peppers after a four-year absence has been credited with revitalising the band’s career. For proof that the man is on a creative roll, one need look no further than this.
Disengaging himself from the walking back catalogue of horrible hair that is Anthony Kiedis appears to bring out Frusciante’s solemn, tuneful side. The record is both labour of love and exorcism – Frusciante plays every instrument himself and every song is, without exception, pointedly self-analytical and emotionally probing. This, combined with Frusciante’s ropey but breath-catchingly fraught voice, can make for uncomfortable listening. Nevertheless, there remains an underlying optimism and fondness for unapologetically pretty melodies that imparts a redeeming and lasting warmth.
Between lyrical motifs of death and rebirth, Frusciante toys ably with sodden blues, rambling alt-country and sweet psychedelia, twisting them all into personalised, storytelling shapes. His scope is as broad as his mood is downbeat, moving from the spaced out and vaguely creepy drone of ‘Remain’ to the huge Hüsker Dü debt evinced in the brittle ‘The First Season’. This is a man who has heard ‘Too Far Down’, and understood it completely. Elsewhere, there are hints of everything from Archers Of Loaf to Guided By Voices – and although there is no evidence of the Peppers’ characteristic cod-funk, one suspects that the more tuneful moments of ‘Californication’ owe much to Frusciante’s sympathetic ear.
“I’m the one who captures what he lost/And turns it around”, he sings in the dreamy, restless ‘Saturation’. This time, it sounds like Frusciante is on the right track.