Jane's Addiction walked away from music at the top of their game. In the late '80s and early '90s, they brought art back to rock 'n' roll with two studio albums that had the poetry and sexuality of the Doors, the driving intensity of Zeppelin, and an L.A. street-savvy grit that made their sound their own. Jane's fought out of a pool of teased hair and excess and were in part responsible for drowning the hair-metal beast.
This year, aided by another art-rock notable, TV on the Radio's David Sitek, Jane's dropped The Great Escape Artist. On the first song, "Underground," Perry Ferrell belts out, "I'm a hustler, hustler, I'll never give up the underground," and as the statement lands over a wall of over-produced guitar riffage, it lacks a certain sincerity. Had he shouted this with ratty dreadlocks slithering serpentine across the stage in 1986, it would have been believable, but this current band conjures Entourage, reality TV, and a perfectly preserved shirtless Dave Navarro.
The young hunger and edge that made Jane's Addiction so potent and important in the first breath of the '90s is what's missing on this album; it isn't terrible, but it does nothing to further their legacy. And though Sitek contributes certain tones that keep the album relevant, the absence of original bassist Eric Avery reveals how important his push and pulse was to the sound and movement of Jane's Addiction. If you're a Jane's fan, satiate your curiosity with a listen, but if you're delving in for the first time, take on Nothing's Shocking and think about the sea of mediocre '80s rock it surfaced from.
- Album: The Great Escape Artist
- Artist: Jane's Addiction
- Label: Capitol
- Songs: (1) "Underground" (2) "End to the Lies" (3) "Curiosity Kills" (4) "Irresistible Force (Met the Immovable Object)" (5) "I'll Hit You Back" (6) "Twisted Tales" (7) "Ultimate Reason" (8) "Splash a Little Water on It" (9) "Broken People" (10) "Words Right Out of My Mouth"