Sound — 9
This is one of my favorite John Frusciante albums simply because of it's really mellow, almost under-produced sound. It's a very simple style: not a lot of layering and not a lot of electronic effects, which are quite prevalent in much of Frusciante's solo work. Most of the songs are very laid back, and those that are darker still retain that simple quality that makes this album really easy to listen to. However, there are a few instrumental ideas that stand out in the album, including the very rhythmic drums and guitars in Time Runs Out, the sound of rain in Wishing, and the dreamy instrumental song, Helical. My one complaint with this album's sound is that a few songs-- Unchanging, Loss, and Will to Death-- seem to be just a little too similar in places. Otherwise, the album has a very great, easy-going style that is very enjoyable to listen to.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics are far better than I had first expected. There are not many straightforward ideas presented; most of his thoughts are presented through metaphors and imagery, and it is quite powerful at times. Many of these lyrics do have a common theme of self-reflection, exploration of personalities, and a tone of thoughtfulness. This is an interesting contrast to the music, which focuses greatly on simplicity. Frusciante's singing here is, musically, a very great improvement from his earlier albums. Although there are many, myself included, who enjoy the deep, emotional, often incoherent vocals of Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-shirt, this album exhibits some of his talent in conventional singing. It is not as much of an acquired taste, as some of his earlier albums were, so it is much easier to enjoy it with the same laid back feel as the music.
Overall Impression — 10
This album is definitely one of the easiest to get into for newer Frusciante listeners. It's not as experimental or psychedelic as many of his other albums, but it still retains a very distinctive style that John Frusciante has developed in his solo work (which is, by the way, very different from anything he has done with Red Hot Chili Peppers). There is not much I dislike about this album at all. I would not call it a world-changing album with very innovative ideas, but the ease with which the music presents itself makes it difficult for me to dislike it. Although this is not John Frusciante's definitive work, it is a great example of one facet of his musical style, and I have often recommended it to others with good reason.