A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away, a renegade army of nouveau punk bands gathered for a rock and roll celebration to bid a fond farewell to their leading crew, namely Jane’s Addiction. Jane’s Addiction has been resurrected and broken up a few times since that monumental Lollapalooza tour in 1991, but now they’re back (minus Eric Avery, the band’s founding bass player) and their fourth studio album, The Great Escape Artist, has all the energy, grit, and punk rock soul that is sorely lacking in today’s so-called “pop punk” scene.
The Great Escape Artist includes 10 tracks: “Underground,” “End to the Lies,” Curiosity Kills,” the stellar single “Irresistible Force,” “I’ll Hit You Back,” “TwistedTales,” “Ultimate Reason,” “Splash A Little Water On It,” “Broken People,” and “Words Right Out of My Mouth.” What do they all have in common? Well, Farrell’s vox tracks are consistently ghostly, haunting, and intense. Every track is driven by Dave Navarro’s guitar prowess. Stephen Perkins’ beats are heavy, and no matter who it is behind the bass, the low end is ambient, heavy, and entrancing.
“Underground” reintroduces its audience to Jane’s dirty cosmic sound. It’s a heart bumping romp that piques with Navarro’s burning solo.
“End to the Lies” is rumored to be the band’s response to comments made by former bassist Avery in an interview he gave after leaving the band. Navarro’s stuttering guitar lick at the one minute mark spits in the eye of bands for whom the label “Pop Punk” will only ever be half right.
“Irresistible Force” is a true testament to the band’s maturity in concept and in composition. As Farrell waxes metaphysical about the origins of the universe, a smoking bass track carries Perkins’ cosmic beats, and once again Navarro’s solo drives the song to a climactic resolution.
“I’ll Hit You Back” is full of subtext and soul. The track exudes depth with apologetic lyrics and, as Farrell calls out to “the better man,” the allusion to Pearl Jam’s “Daughter” is hard to ignore.
The album takes a mellow turn in “Twisted Tales” but not for long. “Ultimate Reason” opens with a kitschy lyric and acoustic sound, only to burst into a rockn’ track. The last track, “Words Right Out Of My Mouth,” kisses the crowd good-bye with yet another angry, bouncy, punky, anthem.
The Great Escape Artist is sure to satisfy all those impatient Jane’s Addiction fans who have suffered through the recent degradation of the punk genre. What is more, The Great Escape Artist is sure to find fans among the younger audience who, hopefully, are starting to see through the three-chord, eyeliner, pseudo-punk all-stars dominating the current scene. And for those of us who thought altrock was dead, The Great Escape Artist is cause for us to scream out, “FINALLY SOME REAL F$#KING PUNK MUSIC!” Thank you, Jane’s Addiction, and welcome back.