Pretty On The Inside review by Hole

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  • Released: Jul 1, 1991
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.5 (14 votes)
Hole: Pretty On The Inside

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.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    This is honestly one of the best rock albums I own. People can say what they like about Courtney Love, but this album kicked serious ass. The lyrics are poetic, violent and compelling, and the rugged guitar work and grating noisiness of the entire album is just astounding. Ms. Love is an artist whether people want to recognize it or not, and this (PRE-Kurt) album is proof of her unabashed talent as a writer and singer.
    nice review! this is an awesome album! The Rolling Stone magazine only rated it like 2 stars! that's horrible, this album is amazing, super catchy and definitely underrated.
    This album is so ****ing great. You can't just listen to the songs individually. You need to listen to the whole album all the way through in a CD player in your room in the dark. The songs all go together, they're all apart of this story, this state-of-mind, this ****ed up portrait of a shallow superficial violent world. Courtney gives so much of herself in this, It's a masterpiece. It's "an exorcism" as she has later called it. The first time I heard it I couldn't stand it, then I started thinking about certain parts of it and I kept listening to the CD (all the way through) again and again. The whole album is FILLED with imagery. The songs go on too long and their not melodic, but when you listen to them all together and let your mind and body connect with it, it's really great. Courtney said things as an artist that no one else had ever said before. The way she saw superficiality, how conflicted she has always been. Overall, POTI is great - it's more of some sort of project than an album, to me - Live Through This is just in a different category. Live Through This is a much clearer and more thoughtful translation of Courtney's early views on the world. Live Through This is Courtney's life's work, it's her ALBUM. It's everything she was and everything she wanted to say, it's her greatest work But, POTI is a great listen, it's a great (and ****ed up) project that I don't think most people will "get." PS: Nobody's Daughter and Celebrity Skin are good too, I'm not one of those people who ONLY likes her early work.