Music Reviews
The Great Escape Artist

Jane's Addiction The Great Escape Artist

(Capitol Records) Buy it from Insound Rating - 6/10

The Jane’s Addiction of the ‘90s is gone.  The entire band would probably like to toss me a good kick in the dick for opening with a statement that's been splashed in every review from the UK to the U.S.  But, it's true and is evident upon just a peek (let alone full listen to) their newest effort, The Great Escape Artist.  The group has been around for twenty-five plus years, and this is their fourth albu--wait… FOURTH album? Yeah. You can call it slacking or you can call it artistic evolution, but either way you spin it, the result is twenty-five years worth of two (given, very well received) albums.  Are they veterans or still in the proving of salt stage?  It doesn’t matter.  They’re back again.

The album kicks in the door with Underground, a musical statement with some thick-ass guitar tone that seems to proclaim, “This is what we’re doing this time.  You’ve got nine more tracks worth, so decide if you like it or not.”  The old Jane exists still with those same Perry Farrell vocals, Dave Navarro shred-ups and darker tone, but has evidently been locked in  a modern room with only gothic candles and Muse/Radiohead albums.  They bring the same weird balls that were ushered in with their first couple records but with an added mix of electronic production (which is more relevant in the follow-up tracks).

End of Lies, the second tune in a load of just ten, carries with it the unique precedent set by the first track.  There is echo and digital stutter, but the real draw is Perry’s vocal presence which saves a standard chorus and makes it an enjoyable experience.  Though, once you overcome the, “Oh, I remember why I like this band (even though they‘ve switched it up a bit).” nostalgia, there isn’t an incredibly amount of innovation to stay for.  Throughout the remainder of the album, the atmosphere is held in place.  It’s of consistent tone and throws twists in that are fun to give a listen (i.e. the distorted vocal lines in Curiosity Kills) and smooth drum rhythms via Stephen Perkins, plus equally flowing bass lines courtesy of both David Sitek and Chris Chaney, extend the ease of listening.  So, it’s been established: there is not a lack of musicianship.  But, why doesn’t it feel as if this is an album you’re gonna listen to at every moment you get?  After all, that’s what you used to do with the new Jane’s record, right?

For a fan of music in general the album fills.  It’s different enough to throw a nice listen, doesn’t drag and evokes interest without alienating through experimental noise breaks like so many other artists seem compelled to do.  But, for hardcore fans who want something to write home about, this may not be it.  It’s not the same Jane’s and that’s okay, but it’s also not different enough to dive into with a separate mindset.  Maybe it’s a little weird getting over the fact that they feel new, but probably not.  It’s probably the fact that musically and lyrically it’s just a good album.

Dynamics come in smooth forms (Broken People seems innocent enough in its mellow, psychedelic and folky stream of notes…until you hear the words “sex video” and the whole thing blows up into a melancholic noise explosion--another twist worth tuning in for), and there’s certainly no skimp on energetic excitement (Words Right Out of My Mouth, the closer, is a fun punk throw together with a spoken word intro).  It’s an album that has essentially everything you hoped for, but for some reason it isn’t quite filling enough.  Maybe this is the band tempting you so you’ll grab their next record (which will hit shelves in about sixteen years at the pace they’re going), or maybe it’s just a mystery as to why it doesn’t seem like the best thing they’ve ever done.  Given, that’s a huge expectation but then again, maybe that mystery adds to the complexities and delicacies of the album.  Maybe in fact it does warrant a couple more listens.  Maybe it’ll age well, maybe it won’t.  But none of that really matters.  It’s an in-the-moment album that’s best when it’s in the moment.