When Perry Farrell throws a party, everyone is welcome to join in and have a good time. His latest venture finds him offering up a variety of tunes created with friends to tell a story about artists and visionaries, called The Solutionists, coming together to make the world a better place through creativity and spreading love. It sounds corny in these cynical times, and will be easily dismissed and scoffed at by moody, modern hipsters, but for anyone who has followed Farrell’s career, he sincerely believe it’s the way forward. Hell, the idea is so crazy it just might even work if people give it a chance.
The album opens begins “Wish Upon A Dog Star” co-written by Joy Division/New Order’s Peter Hook, a perfect last name for a musician as evidenced by this song with its captivating bass line, certain to “get your groove on” out on the dance floor. “Only Love, Let’s Celebrate” lays the plan out pretty clearly. The song’s chorus takes from Rare Earth’s “I Just Wanna Celebrate” and repeats its message like a mantra. There’s good guitar work by Nuno Bettencourt, which unfortunately gets buried in the mix at times, but gets to periodically shine through.
If you are curious what the Red Hot Chili Peppers would sound like with Farrell on vocals, “Hard Life Easy” finds him joined by guitarist John Frusciante and bassist Flea, the latter of whom collaborates with Farrell every ten years. In the late ‘80s, he played trumpet on Jane’s Addiction “Idiot’s Rule” and in the late ‘90s he played bass on a couple of Porno for Pyros tracks. The song narrows the scope of love from humanity to the one person who makes “my hard life easy.”
“The Solutionists” is a remake of “Revolution Solution,” a previous collaboration between Farrell and Thievery Corporation off their 2005 The Cosmic Game. The lyrics are the same but the music is different, like an audio fraternal twin. It’s an exotic-sounding, dreamy trip, like nothing else on the album, yet it fits.
“Awesome” is a song to Farrell’s newborn son. Backed by a big, sweeping orchestra, he exudes the love of a father and repeats the title throughout. I understand the sentiment and have no doubt holding that new life in your arms is overwhelming and mind-boggling, as the line “I can’t believe that you exist” signifies, making “awesome” the perfect word. If the listener can’t put himself into a parent’s mindset, the song might not work. With each play, the song grew more on me.
The album closes out with songs that take from Farrell’s musical past. “Insanity Rains” has the charging energy of Jane’s Addiction, “Milky Ave.” has the moody atmospherics of Porno for Pyros, and “Ultra Payloaded Satellite Party” is a synthesis of the two, alternating from verse to chorus. Close to the end of the song, Farrell sings “Come on and touch me, babe/Can’t you see that I am not afraid” from The Doors’ “Touch Me.” It’s a perfect segue into the final track, which will get a lot of attention because “Women In The Window” is a song Farrell created with vocals from an unreleased Jim Morrison track. The chorus finds Morrison singing what Farrell has turned into The Solutionists’ anthem, “Just try and stop us/ We're going to love.” It’s one of the most positive and uplifting lines of Morrison’s poetry. There’s a great bit of organ work on the bridge that sounds exactly like Ray Manzarek’s work.
I don’t know if Farrell’s story holds up throughout the piece, and I don’t know if The Solutionists will become a reality and make real, positive change, but Ultra Payloaded is a good collection of songs to listen to and have a good time. If one person makes the world a better place, that’s a bonus.