Review Summary: only time can show you / through an invisible door
There was a time when my days consisted of taking hallucinogens and listening to this album. I guess that really doesn’t compare to Frusciante’s actual writing of this album which for the most part was marked by his intense heroin addiction, but I think it does encapsulate what kind of album it is. Really, I can’t see myself listening to the bulk of the tracks to cheer up. The album is desolate in its guitar and vocals accompaniment and both of those are played in some of the most dissonant, abrasive ways I have ever heard. The lyrics on “Smile From The Streets You Hold” basically all seem to be stream of conscious with lines like “Relieve your cock on your beloved wife” and “Dirty boys always seek that rollercoaster” making constant appearances. The album is dark, morbid and depressing and very few of the tracks are uplifting. Although, I’m making it out to seem like a terribly drag of record, the actual sound of it is far from straining. Frusciante’s odd vocal melodies and extraordinary original guitar playing make this album a one of a kind experience and most of all a beautiful one.
In terms of the structure of the album there are epically long pieces like “Enter a Uh”, simple pop songs like “Height Down”, and tragically minimal instrumentals like “Poppy Man”. Frusciante embalms his guitar and vocals in a variety of effects like the delayed flanger ridden, “I May Again Know John” and these subtle additions make the album much easier to stomach. The album’s highlight is probably “Life’s a Bath”, a minute or so acoustic piece that is interrupted in the middle with noises reminiscent of the conclusion of Radiohead’s “Motion Picture Soundtrack”. It is a fragile and emotional bare piece that’s video was basically Frusciante taking heroin intravenously. “For Air” is another beautiful piece that is completely instrumental and that relies on a simple chord melody and some overdubbed guitar playing. I guess technically this album is a mixture of Hendrix’s more attractive playing, the minimalism of the ‘70s, and the passion of hardcore. My only compliant is the length of the album in terms of tracks it is seventeen long and it can get somewhat repetitive over the course of its hour play time.
Few albums will ever strike the same emotional chord, “Smile From The Streets You Hold” do with me. It basically was responsible for me surviving my first year out of high school, so it’ll always resonate in me deeply. Emotional performances like this are truly rare and only come along once every decade. The tragedy of this recording is perhaps its greatest strength and the way Frusciante was so accurately able to describe his feelings in sound make it one of my favorites. I can’t in good faith recommend the album to everyone just because of its extremely abrasive nature, but in terms of people interested in the avant-garde this is a truly spectacular album.