The Will to Death (Record Collection)
by Tim Den
For some reason, John Frusciante continues to play guitar and sing back-ups for Red Hot Chili Peppers. For some reason, the world isn’t as stunned of his talents as an Amherst crowd was four years ago when Frusciante sang (impromptu) two Elton John songs in the middle of a RHCP show. For some reason, this man – who became a member of a multi-million dollar act before he could legally drink – is able to harness 15 years of professional triumph, addiction, loneliness, and reflection effortlessly into simple rock songs.
The Will to Death, the first of six solo albums to be released in as many months to come, is simply stunning. As he states in the bio, it was made in a matter of days, with one or two takes each song and almost no overdubs. By adopting this recording method – which would ruin most bands – Frusciante somehow captures unspeakable vulnerability, tenderness, and creativity at its most naturally beautiful. With a style similar to Neil Young’s most confessional moments, The Will to Death rocks out with more heart than knuckles, unafraid to bend notes and cry into the wind.
And man oh man is he good at it. Frusciante has always been a born genius at guitar (check out the best RHCP album, Mother’s Milk, for a taste of his flawless execution. Um, yeah, and he recorded that at age 18!), but when combined with his weary-yet-serene singing voice, the affect is touching, to say the least. When he whispers “there’s only one way to be for you and me” in “Far Away,” the poetic resignation doesn’t come off as apathetic, it’s swollen with strength and a mature understanding of life and love.
The Will to Death offers you the kind of songs you’d sing to yourself when everything around you is falling apart. It’s the kind of album you and a lifelong friend could only dream of making together. It feels like home, it feels like a wound, and it feels beautiful.