Pretty On The Inside by Hole
“Pretty on the Inside” is Hole’s first album and my personal favorite. It’s an underrated masterpiece. Beautiful, whirling melodies are covered by punk rock guitar riffs and lyrics yelled by a pre-Kurt Cobain Courtney Love. I’ve never heard anything quite like it. It’s such an emotional album that whenever I’m feeling hopeless, mad, worthless, or indifferent, I put it on and lose myself.
The album was released in August 1991 (just a few days before “Nevermind,” Love’s future husband’s smash-hit record) and was very well received in Great Britain. It only gained slight notoriety in the States, but soon Love would become an infamous celebrity.
Love’s voice is the centerpiece of the album – she gargled with whiskey and smoked before singing each song – the music being a roaring background noise. You can hear the anger, sorrow, and mischief in her nasally voice, though it still manages to float through erotic moaning tones. She screams at the top of her lungs, and by some reports, was so taken by the music that she ripped off her clothes in the studio.
The guitar parts are much more simplistic than they sound. They’re heavily overlapped, sounding like two different songs at some points and like one really loud guitar at others. One will play a slow, melodic song while the other plays punk chords over it, then they’ll join and play a pop riff.
“Pretty on the Inside” sounds less like a studio album and more like a sloppy live one cleaned up. Many of the lyrics repeat and can only be described as, well, bizarre. Words such as “scars,” “rubies,” “sisters,” “blood,” “black,” and several others appear in almost every track. Many songs speak of murder, shame, hatred, weird rituals, high heels, garbage men, and revenge.
I’d recommend this album to anyone, especially if you’re a fan of sass, heavy breathing, laughing, and screaming along to strangely relatable lyrics. If I must be forced to choose one word to describe this album? Raw.