Whilst only an eight year hiatus this time round, it’s still been a sizeable period since the (initially well-received, but now illogically disliked) Strays. Whilst it did have a couple of genuinely contemptible tracks on it, it was still an admirable addition to the Jane’s canon; and above all, it actually rocked, unlike long-time associates the Chili’s truly dire contemporary offerings.
Jane’s fourth studio effort is seemingly bereft of said rock (with the exception of album closer Words Right Out of my Mouth) in the most part. However, this is not entirely a bad thing. Instead, Jane’s circa 2011 is a devious serpentine affair, lacking immediacy and sounding deceptively simple in the first instance, before revealing a whole subterranea of winding riffs and joyfully melodic basslines.
Opener Underground is as good a statement of intent as any – the Duff McKagan-bemoaned electronic influence being worn proudly within the opening seconds. Thematically the distant cousin of live album highlight Whores, it wends strongly whilst never really revealing too much on first listen. End to the Lies has been reworked to bubble up into a phenomenally satisfying cataclysm of live drum loops and guitar based savagery, and single Irresistible Force is underpinned by a deliciously load-bearing bassline from TV On The Radio stalwart Dave Sitek.
Standout Curiosity Kills is a minimalist epic, seemingly dragged from the freshly exhumed corpse of Pornography-era Cure. The colossal bassline stitches the spine of an hauntingly ethereal guitar line; vocal harmonies flitting around a guitar solo almost so understated as to be almost completely missed.
It is in no way without its flaws, however. Whilst the subtlety of the music lends itself to repeat listens, Perry Farrell doesn’t seem to have extended the same courtesy to the lyrics. The almost impetuous I’ll Hit You Back genuinely suffers for its cheap playground sentiment; and Twisted Tales’ Hollyoaks regaling of a broken home sob story just comes across as plain shit. That’s not to say that there isn’t a place for lyrical transparency, but for someone as purposefully grandiose as their frontman it just seems incongruous to the point of being laughable.
There’s an air of satisfaction to be gleaned from trying something so different to previous efforts, and on the most part The Great Escape Artist succeeds. How receptive everyone else will be to the new direction remains to be seen. Regardless, it’s an album that genuinely gratifies the listener with every spin, and with the prospect of another two albums worth of material knocking about, there’s the distinct possibility of this being a precursor to something truly special.
Matt Crane says…
From more info on Jane’s Addiction visit their website HERE.