Review Summary: Dirty, Dark, And a Hell of a Good Time
“I've got the Devil in me...” is quite the way to start an album, but vocalist and frontman Perry Farrell was never one for avoiding controversy, as many will know from his most popular group, Jane's Addiction. The man and the musicians he works with are known for doing things that push the envelope, from the album covers to what is on the disc or record itself. While they are provocative, to say the least, Jane's Addiction gained traction and its cult status through their music, which blends light and airy psychedelic vibes with catchy and groovy alternative rock sensibilities. In many ways, Porno For Pyros, the post-Jane's Addiction brainchild of Perry Farrell and drummer Steven Perkins, is quite similar, at least on paper.
These two musicians combined forces with Peter DiStefano and Martyn LeNoble to create said band after the unfortunate break up of Jane's Addiction. This lead to the self-titled record that is before us today, which was received positively at the time. Despite this and Pets being a charting track, Porno For Pyros is often looked at as merely a bullet point on the history of Jane's Addiction.
This is understandable, as there are key differences that make Porno For Pyros more than just a sequel band. One of these differences is the lack of guitarist Dave Navarro and bassist Eric Avery, and there is no denying that these two members helped make Jane's Addiction what it was. Rather then sound like a half baked continuation with half of the lineup replaced, Porno For Pyros decides to give us something different, yet still similar.
One thing that is plainly noticeable from the beginning of this album is that it is not as heavy as Farrell and Perkins' original band. This album embraces psychedelic and groovy influences wholeheartedly, while spicing in a darker atmosphere that embodied the grimy offensiveness of song names such as Packin' .25, Porno For Pyros and Blood Rag. This comes together to give songs like Orgasm and Pets an ethereal and floaty vibrancy that keeps them interesting and, in a way, relaxing. Combine this with funky bass lines, varying types of drums and drumming, and Farrell's off-kilter vocal delivery makes these songs very nice for some relaxed listening that will still satisfy the mind's hunger for intrigue.
As for the lyrical content, it backs up it's lustful nature with oddly compelling topics and metaphors. For example, Cursed Female and Cursed Male all contemplate the flaws with both the male and female genders. Pets gives us insight to what the band thinks would happen if aliens found the human race, which was most likely thought up in a drug induced discussion on humanity. There are also songs addressing the '92 L.A. Riots, those songs being Porno For Pyros, Black Girlfriend, and Packin' .25. These songs stick out strongly, as they address what the band thought of the riots, with the self-titled track and Packin' .25 being about people who enjoyed the chaos and violence.
What already has the potential to be a fantastic album is weighed down by flaws that unfortunately rear there heads in different places on the record. One of these said flaws is that songs such as Bad *** and Blood Rag feel significantly less memorable than many other tracks, as they tend to be out shined by many of the other songs. This is not to say that these songs don't fit or aren't good, but they feel much more straight forward when compared with some of the albums more fascinating. This album also can become more subdued in places, which works in many places on the songs like Meija and the previously mentioned Pets, but doesn't do much for grabbing attention, especially if it isn't your kind of thing.
But this record still manages to keep a consistent theme and atmosphere, meaning that any songs that hold the record back don't necessarily break the flow or cohesiveness that is maintained throughout this album. If you can get past the flaws and the differences between this and albums like Nothing's Shocking or Ritual De Lo Habitual, Porno For Pyros is a shadowy and groovy record that is a surprisingly strong follow up to those albums.