tue 04/08/2020

CD: Jane's Addiction - The Great Escape Artist | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Jane's Addiction - The Great Escape Artist

CD: Jane's Addiction - The Great Escape Artist

After a disappointing opening the good stuff keeps coming

Jane's Addiction: an album of two halves

When a band of a certain vintage comes in from the cold suddenly to record a new album you can reasonably expect one of three things: total nonsense, a half-decent throwback or, if you’re very lucky, a proper comeback. Eighties art-metallers Jane’s Addiction have already had one pretty impressive return this millennium. That was 2003’s Stray, their first original release since 1990’s classic Ritual de lo Habitual. The question fans of Lollapalooza music have been asking in the last few months is, can they pull off the same trick again?

So far, reactions to the record have been polarised between fanboy plaudits and complaints that it lacks gonads. Both have a point. The first four tracks do indeed merge into one swampy mid-life crisis of a song, where soundbites of rock braggadocio compete with Edge-style stadium rock guitar through unconvincing ambient sounds. Fortunately things improve a lot in the second half. Singer Perry Farrell seems to know it, singing “I’m trying to see the bigger picture/ To be a better me” on “I’ll Hit you Back”, where the energy and attitude is conveyed through Dave Navarro's tasteful (if slightly Chili Peppers-aping) guitar riffs and Farrell’s outsider vocals.

And then the good stuff keeps coming. The six-minute paean to dysfunctional domesticity, “Splash a Little Water on It”, with its anthemic chorus, “Splash a little water on it/ See if it comes alive”, contains both the best vocals and guitar work on the album. Melodically, however, the high point is “Broken People”. The words may hark back to their old freak carnival days (“Welcome to the aching world/ A wonderful world of broken people”), but the music could have been lifted straight off the chill-out moments of Primal Scream’s Screamadelica. And whereas at the beginning of the album Farrell just seems peeved, there’s as much rage on the closer “Words Right Out of My Mouth” as there was back in their heyday.

Whether or not The Great Escape Artist has longevity might be down to whether people get beyond the disappointing opening. What it does show is that they’re back if they want to be.

Watch the video for the 1988 single "Jane Says"

Whether or not the album has longevity might be down to whether people get beyond the disappointing opening


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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It's slightly patchy but definitely better than Strays (which wasn't bad). Sitek's influence is very refreshing, if not as far-reaching as it might have been, I had hoped for a little more from it. Not sure I agree that Navarro's riffs ape the Chili Peppers though. He was a member in between Jane's stints and the bands are contemporaries and share a lot of influences. The Chili Peppers just seem to hate each other less between albums and have consequently released more stuff and are probably more immediately identifiable with that sound...

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