Review Summary: Pyros of the Caribbean
We all have our own ideas of paradise; for some it's a fantasy only accessible through dreams, for others it's a spiritual utopia lying somewhere beyond this mortal life. For the lucky ones paradise remains an earthbound proposition and very much accessible, a real place, one they've most likely visited before and hope to see again. Listening to Porno for Pyro's 'Good God's Urge' you are left in little doubt Perry Farrell is one of these fortunate souls as the album comes across as a thinly disguised love letter to the place(s) closest to his heart. Back in '96 this release met with incredulity and was criticised for lacking the outrageous Farrell pyrotechnics we'd all come to expect; as far as most were concerned the man simply wasn't being true to himself. Upon listening to the album I was confused by the reaction because to my ears these were easily the most natural sounding songs the man had ever penned.
Perry's version of perfection is actually a fairly conventional one; tropical islands, bird song, fresh bed sheets, your lover lying by your side, a regular supply of high quality hallucinogens, suicidal fantasies about crashing your sports car or going for one last fatal skinny dip...ok, so some parts more ordinary than others. The world of 'Good God's Urge' is never less than a strikingly beautiful one, but that's not to say there can't be a little trouble in paradise when you're hanging with a cat like Farrell. Those twin storm clouds of existential fear and reckless habits still roll in off the coast to periodically cast their dark shadows over proceedings, reflecting the truth that you can't ever truly outrun your demons, no matter how idyllic the surroundings.
These more troubling influences never threaten to disrupt the album's pervading atmosphere of blissed-out contentment, but whenever they do surface they invariably stand out thanks to the degree of contrast; 'Wishing Well' and 'Thick of it All' in particular capture that feeling of standing on a deserted beach at the exact moment the wind whips up and you catch a first glimpse of a storm closing in on the horizon. The standout 'Tahitian Moon' is all driving guitars and relentless hand claps, tidal waves of tension that break with the lulling chorus refrain of 'I don't know if I'll make it home tonight, but I know I can swim under the Tahitian moon.' In paradise it seems even death can be transformed into something painless, dignified, perhaps even inviting. 'Freeway' is more nihilistic in its take on self destruction, Farrell playing a game of chicken with his lover insisting he'll crash his speedy motor if she doesn't profess her undying love for him. The song itself feels like an equally reckless moment of rock n' roll abandon in the context of this release and ends up all the more appealing for it.
The majority of the album does away with all trace of these conflicted emotions instead documenting the unbridled feelings of freedom and love Farrell experiences in this exotic land. '100 Ways' should be unbearably sickly with it's dove cooing samples and muted trumpet but against all the odds still manages to win through, the song capturing the unmistakable sound of a man in total harmony with the life essence of everything that surrounds him. Similarly the unfussy campfire ballad 'Kimberley Austin' could so easily have ended up as totally unremarkable but once again that purity shines through like a beacon; Farrell joyously confides 'I like what she sees in herself...gives me all of her confidence', his heart as wide open as it could possibly be.
The album wraps up with the similarly acoustic led 'Bali Eyes' where Perry has fun playing with the double meaning of the word 'trip', ingesting mushrooms until he starts believing he's turning into a tree, burrowing his roots down into the earth beneath his bare toes. Its an intoxicating image and one that will ring true for anyone who's ever felt like they've found their very own patch of paradise on this lonely blue planet. People will always question why Farrell disbanded the hugely successful Jane's Addiction to pursue this far more low key and idiosyncratic project; 'Good God's Urge' should really provide them with all the answers they need.