John Frusciante

By Peter Hemminger

A collection of sharply written alt-rock tunes intermingled with bits of astonishing self-indulgence, Shadows Collide With People is an alternately rewarding and frustrating effort.

The majority of Shadows Collide With People emphasizes Frusciante’s strengths as a songwriter. The Chili Pepper’s guitarist possesses a surprisingly strong voice in addition to his formidable guitar skills, a strong sense of melody particularly when it comes to harmony, and a vast knowledge of chords that goes far beyond the three chords many bands rely on.

For the most part, the album abandons the drug-addled freakouts of Frusciante’s previous solo efforts. “Second Walk” mixes Cheap Trick energy with some fairly poignant lyrics about the nature of fame, something that has crushed the singer in the past. “Regret” manages to fashion a whole song around six words, “I regret my past/stay alone,” by providing one of Frusciante’s strongest vocal performances. The album highlight, though, is “The Slaughter” illustrating both the power and sweetness Frusciante possesses within his emaciated frame.

The trouble starts with his proclivity to include tracks like “-00Ghost27,” a four minute jumble of ambient keyboard and distortion. Atmospherics can help a disc, but the sheer length and monotony of the instrumental filler almost collapses the album. Cut them out and you’re left with an engaging, if somewhat generic, slice of alternative rock.

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