Al-Rehab "Fruit" Alcohol-Free Concentrated Perfume Oil (Crown Perfumes)

Sherapop's incredible blog recently opined on the woe that is oud. More specifically, "Oud Madness," a syndrome in which every designer and niche brand from here to Calcutta finds it necessary to market two or more oud-based perfumes. That this coincides with the recent development of a synthetic oud aroma chemical is beside the point - there is simply no reason for oud to be getting this kind of traction. This isn't Calone, people. When you step out your door in the morning and wait in line at Starbucks, then shuffle into the office, you don't smell a pungent, medicinal aroma wafting off your neighbors and colleagues. This scent has not permeated Western culture. Unlike freesia, vanilla, coffee, pink pepper, and the aforementioned Calone (fresh, aqueous, melon-like), you don't encounter oud on the street, in the office, at cafes, or in the gym. People don't even know it exists. Stop a couple of random clean-cut guys on the block and ask them to identify their favorite oud scent, and watch their already-bored eyes glaze over further. Their very first words will be, "what's oud?" Sorry oud fans, but you're living in a bubble.

To show solidarity with Sherapop, and anyone else who is tired of hearing about oud, I've decided to take my own little stand against the oud craze that has manifested itself in the various board rooms of Eastern and Western fragrance concerns. I'm not totally anti-oud, but I'd like to minimize its already minimal impact. I'll do it with Al-Rehab. When I review fragrances from Al-Rehab, I'll review their "oud-less" formulas only. That's tough to do, because Al-Rehab loves oud, and puts it to good use. Many of their alcohol-free concentrated perfume oils approximate the effect of oud, or incorporate that note in their pyramids. And Al-Rehab has dozens of fragrances, actually more than I can count. Their website has a complete index, but for buying purposes it's easier to jump onto Amazon to see what's readily available. There's no less than thirty different scents listed. Fruit, one of the lesser-known Al-Rehabs, is also there, currently going for under four dollars. Get it while you can. Who knows how long it'll be there.

I encourage you to get it because Fruit smells really good, and it surprised me. I expected it to smell harsh and synthetic, because fruit fragrances usually wind up very plasticky and mean. Al-Rehab's take does smell very synthetic, yet it approaches the subject matter in its own unique way. And strange subject matter it is - how many flowerless fruit fragrances can you think of? The whole "fruity-floral" category relies on the interplay between green and edible for a "fresh" and "sweet" effect. But Fruit isn't a fruity-floral. There's nary a flower to be found in its composition. Instead, this perfume is comprised of several highly-blended fruit notes that are mated to a heady, slightly funky musk. It's a weird accord that strives to be different and succeeds. This concept was risky, and I think they pulled it off. But just barely.

They have quite a catalog.

The first minute on skin is super sweet, syrupy, an intense blast of stone fruits, like wearing a big gummy wad of dried fruit punch. It smells exactly like fruit(s). Yet the question immediately arises: which fruit(s), exactly? There's a massive apricot note that leaps out at me and practically strangles me with a big, saccharine, juicy kiss. But there's more than just apricot. Blended in there is red apple, white grape, peach, plum, passion fruit, pineapple, strawberry, mango, and pear. Sniff once, and you can't get any of those specific notes out of it. Sniff again, and there they all are, for a split second, piled high. Then again, and they're gone, back into a sweetly abstract miasma of edibly-unidentifiable fructose. There's an underlying shadow to all the brightness, but I can't quite figure out what it is. Until the further drydown, an hour later. Then it becomes clear.

Settled under the brighter top and mid-stage is a colder currant note, and it smells identical to the blackcurrant in Silver, a more widely-known perfume. In fact, there's a crucial interplay between this familiar note and the snowy musk tucked just under it. That musk becomes quite a bit sweatier as the minutes pass. Three hours into the drydown, its twangy animalism is more prominent, with sweetness an afterthought, although it's a stretch to say Fruit becomes completely musky. It remains relatively discreet, with a careful balance between sweet fruitiness and skin-scent, never tipping into full-on musk-bomb territory. Shards of blackcurrant, apricot, and pear remain in play. It all stays rather simple-sugary right to the end.

Fruit is unisex, you can expect no less than seven hours out of it, and it's strong enough to work in cold weather as well as high heat. Is it better than Silver? I'd say this is preferable because it's weirder, very distinctive, much more unique. Silver vies for attention over Silver Mountain Water, which itself spawned several imitators in a subset of "fresh" fragrances from the nineties. But Fruit isn't quite like anything else out there. It's all about intense fruit. Brisk, juicy, sugary fruit. Musk just holds it together and makes it a proper perfume, and not a Yankee Candle. You can't get samples of Fruit, but for three and change, you have very little to lose in blind buying it to smell for yourself. Just go easy on it - too much and you'll smell like the Kool-Aid man.