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Rockin' Our Turntable: Jane's Addiction

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 21, 2011 2:30PM

2011_10_janes-addiction-the-great-escape-artist.jpg Jane's Addiction has been around quite a while, and gone through the breakup / regroup thing quite a few times, but for a band that's been around over two decades their recorded output is pretty minimal. Unlike most bands with similar lifespans Jane's Addiction seems to only record when they feel like it, and as a result their material stands up. Granted, more recent albums from the band will never pack the punch of Nothing's Shocking or Ritual De Lo Habitual that owes much to the fact that so many bands have run through the door Jane's Addiction opened, taking bits and pieces of the band's sound as they went through.

The just released The Great Escape Artist, is only the band's fourth proper album (five if you count the "live" self-titled debut) and it finds Jane's Addiction in surprisingly fine form. At this point we know what to expect from Perry Farrell, guitarist Dave Navarro, drummer Stephen Perkins and whoever they tap to play bass at any given time: the guitars will be epic, the drums will contain tribal thunder and the vocals will reach for the shamanistic skies. It's also obvious at this point in time that these guys are never as good apart as they are together. Something about Farrell's unique keening voice just fits so perfectly within Navarro's guitar lines that dip equally into metal, pop and goth. And while Perkins would benefit any group with his drum skills, some of the best in the rock world in our opinion, they only sound truly at home in epic Jane's-land.

The Great Escape Artist certainly plays to the band's strengths. Things start off with the grandly ominous and slow surge of "Underground," a song that culled have easily fit anywhere in the earlier stages of the band's career. "End Of The Lies" continues down the same road and "Irresistible Force" swells out of the speakers to create something that slithers along with a menacing optimism.

All is not perfect. "I'll Hit You Back" take the band's usual formula and mixes a more predictable vocal melody and straightforward rhythm. Farrell's voice is strong and the Perkins' sticks still fly all over the kit but it al just seems more, well, restrained. This tendency repeats a few times throughout the album, "Ultimate Reason" is paint by the numbers alt-rock and the ballad "Splash A Little Water On It" strives for mysticism but just comes up soggy.

Overall though The Great Escape Artist finds Jane's Addiction setting a good counterargument to those that insist that as one grows older one must act their age or rock more softly. There's something to be said for allowing personal whims and not market forces as your musical motivation.