I concede that, even before hearing Shadows Collide with People, the latest solo album from Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante, preconceptions were formed. Assuming that the album would amount to nothing more than a stripped-down version of the RHCP sound, I was less than enthused about the listening ahead of me. However, by the time the last of the record’s 18 tracks had ended, I realized that my original assessment was, thankfully, a good distance from the truth.

Rather than churning out a continuation of the simplistic punk-funk deployed by the Chili Peppers, Frusciante [[ok]] opts for a more subdued tone. Though he is a skilled guitarist by pop rock’s (admittedly low) standards, several cuts on Shadows Collide with People are given over to Brian Eno-like ambience, replete with muted synth noise and ghostly Moog riffs. This measure of creativity is a wonderful surprise, an atypical move for a member of a band so popular.

The album provides a few entertaining listens, though it hints at more potential than it actually realizes. Frusciante’s lyrics are, for the most part, fairly garden-variety, vaguely grappling with personal demons and loneliness; it’s frustrating to hear this “alternative rock” carping laid on top of such promising instrumental tracks.

Shadows Collide with People is a solid album, but with a little more emphasis on the guitar and synthesizers and a little less emphasis on – or better yet the removal of – the vocals, it could’ve been an excellent one.
[Colin Marshall is currently living in a state of Brian Eno-like ambience.]