Sound — 9
After listening to Hole's sophomore album 'Live Through This' for six months before receiving their debut, 'Pretty On The Inside', I was shocked. Very shocked. It was louder, rawer, a lot nastier and took alternative rock to a whole new level for me. While I didn't take to its jagged sound right away, which might actually scare some listeners away, I kept listening and it soon grew on me. The guitars are heavily distorted and dense throughout the entire album; Eric Erlandson and Courtney Love are a fantastic, if not perfect, team that can leave you in awe. Caroline Rue has a distinctive style of syncopated drumming that I've never heard before and to mesh the guitar work with the drumming Jill Emery plays her deep bass lines. This album is extremely unique and even in covering Joni Mitchell's 'Both Sides Now', Hole give it their own acidic twist as 'Clouds'.
Lyrics — 8
Being a women-dominated band, the lyrics of Pretty On The Inside draw on female experiences and emotions. Courtney Love is the main poet of Hole and during their thirteen year career used a high amount of symbolism in her lyrics. Symbols used included sexual, medical, spiritual and anatomical terms and references; as well as the recurring themes of milk, sugar, babies, children and clothing. All the language techniques used, while extremely effective with the music, are surrealist to a certain degree and they can leave you wondering what they really mean. Even so you will probably find yourself singing along. During the recording of Pretty On The Inside, Love gargled whiskey. Her voice is powerful, raspy and can range from a disenchanted melody to a full throttle scream; and she does so in a way that you have no choice but to empathise with her. In certain ways Love's voice can really make me wince with her vocal effects, in particular the way she pronounces "I" and "e", which is apparent on all my Hole albums. Despite these few minor setbacks, the lyrics and singing are very good.
Overall Impression — 10
From the opening roar of 'Teenage Whore' to the closing drone of 'Pretty On The Inside/Clouds' (two tracks in one), Pretty On The Inside is a well crafted, enthralling and highly original album. Once I acquired its taste, Pretty On The Inside quickly became one of my favourite albums and if it were lost or stolen I know I would be devastated until I bought another copy. It has drastically changed my outlook on music and opened my ears to accept different styles of rock based music. Definitely a wise investment for any rock album collection.