This is the fifth installment of my list of my 10 favorite albums. You can see the beginning of it here.
Today’s album still haunts me after all these years.
Pretty on the Inside is not fun to listen to, nor is it filled with songs that you’ll find yourself humming. Harrowing is the best word I can find to describe it. The album seems to chronicle a woman’s descent into heroin and prostitution. Abusive relationships, the threat of overdoses, and the constant fear of herself round out the fun times. The songs hold together really well and the lyrics are both well crafted and delivered expertly.
I don’t usually like concept albums, or even albums with a narrative thread. Most of them never transcend the didacticism of their story telling. I always imagine the artist presenting their very important work to me and I’m supposed to be the grateful receiver of their message. Pretty on the Inside manages to transcend this problem by simultaneously painting an excruciatingly stark painting of this woman’s life and not caring if you “get something” out of it or not. The lyrics and performance feel too honest to be just stories. Knowing what we know about Courtney Love’s life makes me sure she has first hand knowledge of what happens to the protagonist on this album.
I love this album because it is an honest, complete piece of performance art. Love has managed to make a towering monument to self-loathing and bad decisions. I think it is important to experience art like this from time to time in order to empathize with people in these sorts of situations. Sometimes you have to stand in the dark in order to see the light. This album gives you a taste of what living in a spiritual and emotional darkness must be like.