Jane's Addiction - Strays
Like Alan partridge, Jane's Addiction's singer Perry Farrell has bounced back. He's faced his demons by ridding himself of the self-destruction which was his heroin addiction. It's a miracle the man's still alive let alone reformed the band who split up way back in 1991. They returned briefly for the Jubilee tour in 1997, but "Strays" is the bands first new album since "Ritual To Be Habitual". It's a welcome return for a band who were an underrated force of nature in their 90s heyday. I know we've had Perry's other band Porno For Pyros, but you can't beat Jane's Addiction for pure quality.
Title track "Strays" sounds a little but like The Cult and has that goth lite quality. Perry's vocal comes across like a transatlantic Bono, full of his own self importance with just a hint of unintentional pomposity. It's loud, proud old school rock of an 80's persuasion with a terrific solo from Eddie Van Halen soundalike Dave Navero. This macho mans guitar playing is suitably testosterone fuelled and it'll come as no surprise that this rock messiah is engaged to Carmen Electra.
There's more than a passing resemblance to the frantic funk of The Red Hot Chili Peppers on the song "Price I Pay". After a deliberately uneven low key intro, the band crank up the volume only to change key completely when the psychedelic middle eight ventures an unusual diversion into hippy muso territory, but subversively works. It's just a pity that under all that ambition a good tune is desperately struggling to get heard. There's more 60s peace and free love on "Everybody's Friend". It appears Jane's' Addiction have been listening to a lot of Neil Young, Byrds and Grateful Dead whilst recording this album. That said the guitar work seems to be inspired by George Harrison. The lyrics may be simple and humble, but in a society still at odds by the devastation of September 11th it rings true with sheer conviction.
"To Match The Sun" closes the album in an avalanche of sleazy rock n roll. It does have a slightly softer edge than normal with some lusciously arranged harmonies. It may veer towards the 70s, but with a confidently performed contemporary sheen. For a band who have excelled in drug and drink crazed debauchery, Jane's Addiction come back album "Strays" sound disappointingly conventional, predictable and safe. There are still some really good songs, but nothing comes close to the brilliance of "Been Caught Stealing" from 1990.
Nicholas Paul Godkin
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