Album Review: Jane's Addiction

Jane's Addiction has been a definitive force in the world of 'alternative rock' since their formation back in 1985. Helping pioneer and redefine scene that grew with fellow acts Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam and latterly the Foo Fighters, they rose to prominence with hard riffs and funk-laced beats. Something frequently just a little left-field. The always eccentric Perry Farrell (whose name I'm still not sure is not a word-play on 'Peripheral') fronts the band with "The ruthlessness of an Iggy and the theatricality of a Bowie".

Returning this week with The Great Escape Artist, The band strives to remain relevant in rock’s ever-changing realm and usually succeeds with a few minor blemishes. Production quality is absolutely top-notch as ever, but seeing how songwriting has always been a strong point to Jane’s Addiction, how do the songs stack up?

Now for the opinionated bit ... Seems as if the band have absorbed one of the facts of the digital age (that nowadays there's a lot of widgets/preview-players around and getting the first track 'right' is essential) and the opener Underground is probably the highlight of the album. Navarro's Zeppesque line behind the tune lends an epic expansive background, and brands a very familiar stamp on the track and you are in no doubt who this is - and that's it's pretty damn good. Next up is End To The Lies and again displayed is a marvellous, lumbering monster of a song - Farrell's vocals off in an otherwordly plane of their own.

Things seems to go a little awry from the third track onwards however, Curiosity Kills isn't 'bad' by a longshot, strangely is puts me in mind of U2 .... but for the most part, the tracks in the middle of the album are sadly just that; 'Middling'. Things seems to fall into a groove where everything is fine, songs are OK, but nothing really stands out .... There's no inspiring Jane Says and likewise no funk-driven Pigs In Zen or Been Caught Stealing lifting out of a general 'Jane's Addiction OK songs' vibe. It appears that some of the catchiness and crankiness has gone, in favour of replicating the generally spacey atmosphere and sticking with it.

The penultimate track Broken People attempts to retrieve lost ears with melodically melancholic chords and is a little more special than what precedes it and closer Words Right Out Of My Mouth finishes things with a nice flourish, rocking out somewhat harder. The saving grace does come perhaps a little late though.

In subjective conclusion, The Great Escape Artist is worth a listen or three - perhaps it's a 'grower'? But when like me, you're a huge fan of Nothing's Shocking and Ritual de lo Habitual then there's quite literally nothing in here to really shock you. Likewise nothing to enthuse or catch a new audience to the band's work. The 'meat' of the LP unfortunately relies too much on overused formulaic hooks and has little contrast between tracks - Making me think that ultimately the record really ought to have been an EP of 3 or 4 tracks rather than the minor disappointment it is (at least for me) in its current form. A shame.

I guess your heroes can't always be brilliant