Jane’s Addiction – [Album]

Monday, 17 October 2011

After fifteen years of relative inactivity and diminished returns when a new album did appear, the hope that Jane's Addiction would find a way to redeem itself with some great new music was pretty much at its end. Strays (the band's “great comeback album”) wasn't as good as anyone had hoped – especially stacked next to the high quality of raiding the vaults comps like Cabinet Of Curiosities – and the fact that Dave Navarro, Steven Perkins and Perry Farrell went through a directory of bass players between 1998 and 2011 (including Flea, Martyn LeNoble, Duff McKagan, Chris Chaney, a briefly re-instated Eric Avery and Dave Sitek) left some to project that either not everything was well within the band, or their days as a creatively vital recording act were simply over. As the adage goes though, sometimes one needs to be knocked down in order to realize where up is and now, after descending pretty far down over the last ten years particularly, Jane's Addiction has truly come back with The Great Escape Artist and re-emerged in fighting form.

From the moment that the sonorous guitar figure which opens “Underground” fades in to introduce The Great Escape Artist, long-time fans will know they're not going to get some contrived re-enactment of the Jane's Addiction they once knew now twenty years gone, this is an all-new and believable beast. Here, Jane's Addiction still presents itself as a little reckless/off-kilter as they always have with a sexy, Barrio swagger that still has some mysticism to it, Jane's manages to straddle and blur the lines between the epic, gorgeous and cathartic as it always did, but does it here with a slightly different posture; Perry Farrell's ageless vocals sound a little more reflective than they do extroverted on The Great Escape Artist and the consistently more textural instrumentation updates the sound of the band to make it more 'modern' and less 'classic' rock. In taking that angle on The Great Escape Artist, fans will find themselves getting excited right away. There is some familiarity in the songs here which means it will appeal to long-time fans, but it's not just a rehash of old forms; here, Jane's Addiction is acting its age and expanding on its legacy rather than trying to cling desperately to it.

The excitement generated by “Underground” is never disappointed in the run-time of The Great Escape Artist either. Immediately following that first track, Jane's delves into its darker side as they seethe into “End to The Lies” and hold that feeling through “Curiosity Kills” before breaking stride to slither into the pants of every woman listening with the sublime “Irresistible Force.” Of course, every fan knows that these moves aren't new for Jane's Addiction – they're nothing shocking, if you will – but what is new is how the band achieves the sounds in those songs, because they're not taking their own well-beaten path to the same ends here. Instead of driving fans into fits of ecstasy with tried and true, classic rock-leaning guitar licks and ear-searing, death-defying solos, Perry Farrell takes the lead with some inspired lyric sheets to produce some of the most proverb-heavy, vocally-driven songs of the band's career. Unlike such classics as “Mountain Song,” “Three Days,” “Been Caught Stealing” and “Ted, Just Admit It…,” the bass and guitars sit largely behind Farrell's vocals and give the album a more distinctly 'pop' feel than 'rock,' but the songs are made much darker than most of those in the band's catalogue because of the undercurrents created by those instruments. The results are a captivating turn away from the traditions of Jane's Addiction, but the change becomes increasingly welcome as the record continues and holds true to this dynamic and emotional center; while desperation has always been a satellite theme to Jane's Addiction's music (see “Ted, Just Admit It…” and “Three Days”), it is more closely examined for the first time in “I'll Hit You Back,” while the uncharacteristically angry “Twisted Tales” shows off the logical extension of the disappointments that have dogged the band for the last decade and sees the singer finally spitting and drawing a line in the sand with lyrics like, “Hid my best from you” as if to tell both the girl in the song and listeners that he'd been pulling punches for a while, but now they'll be getting all of him – for good or bad.

By the end of the record, a twinkling of rebirth has begun to sound in “Splash A Little Water On It” (the lyrics hint at clarity with lines like “Splash a little water on it/see what you're working with”) and no listener will be able to miss that there's a new kind of elation in the band as Farrell welcomes listeners to the world to close out “Broken People.” That end is exciting too; it signals that not only are the dark times which colored the record over, but the dark age which has endured since the band's first breakup in 1991 is over too and there are new bright times ahead. In the end, that cryptic promise is all listeners are left with but, if they keep that word, that's all long-time fans need; in The Great Escape Artist rests the implication of a new, fresh beginning for Jane's Addiction and that possibility is very, very exciting indeed.



Jane's Addiction – “End to The Lies” – The Great Escape Artist
Jane's Addiction – "Irresistible Force' – The Great Escape Artist


The Great Escape Artist
comes out on October 18, 2011 via Capitol Records. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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