Demons Fought but Not Slain

Thanks to his versatile stylings in iconic bands Jane's Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Navarro is a modern-rock guitar hero. But he has spent the last three years pursuing his own muse, even rejecting offers from Trent Reznor and Axl Rose. Finally, his solo debut (in stores Tuesday) is a reality. Life must be pretty sweet, eh?

As if. Navarro wrestles plenty of demons on "Trust No One," excoriating lost loves, lamenting forgotten friends, and struggling with doubts and fears. In addition to playing guitars and singing, he also takes up bass, piano and some programming duties, underscoring the album's sense of emotional isolation.

His music is what you'd expect, with many selections evoking such Jane's touchstones as Led Zeppelin and Siouxsie & the Banshees with their hammering electro-beats and blends of acoustic, metal, punk and classic-rock licks. "Not for Nothing" is a thrilling slalom race of a techno-pop tune, but despite tempo and mood variations, Navarro's quiet-loud-louder formula becomes slightly suffocating.

The gothic dynamics match the naked feelings behind such selections as the muscular "Rexall" and the stark "Mourning Son." But although Navarro's vocals are quite serviceable, his clunky lyrics undermine the intricate sonic drama, reminding listeners why his success has come in supporting, rather than starring, roles.

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