I had no expectations going into Jane’s Addictions latest, The Great Escape Artist. I thought 2003’s Strays was okay but other than a few standout tracks (“Just Because”, “True Nature”), the album didn’t really do too much to add to the legacy of JA. Cut to eight years later and we have their 4th album which is wholeheartedly the epitome of Jane’s Addiction in the 21st Century. It’s spiritual and mystical with a unique sound that stands above the rest. Navarro wails better than ever, Perry sounds incredible, and Perkins brings the tribal and the rock at the right moments. Add to the mix TV on the Radio’s David Sitek (along with Chris Chaney who played on Strays) as bassist and co-writer and you have the mighty Jane’s Addiction firing on all cylinders once again.
Sitek’s influence can be heard immediately as “The Underground” opens with a fuzzed out bass under Farrell’s unmistakable vocals. I liken first single “End To The Lies” to a Godzilla movie because of the slow groove that builds and builds until opening up into a wall of sound (Picture it as Godzilla stomps across the ocean and explodes onto an unsuspecting Japanese city!) Ok, I might be romanticizing the song a bit.
At 10 tracks, Jane’s keep it short and sweet and it works really well for them. Besides the sonic tribalism of “Irresistible Force”, The Great Escape Artist is filled with surprises. The middle bangs out the back-to-back classics “I’ll Hit You Back” and “Twisted Tales” and features Perry at his most “pop” during the chorus of the latter over an electro acoustic melody. “I’ll Hit You Back” starts with layered synths and a very memorable, very sinister, Dave Navarro riff. Next Perkins gets to show off an array of styles on the Middle Eastern-tinged heaviness of “Ultimate Reason”.
They may go their separate ways when JA finishes a touring/album cycle, but The Great Escape Artist makes one thing abundantly clear: Farrell, Navarro, and Perkins were meant to make music together. Janes’s are another of those ’90’s bands that are never truly going back to the sound they started with. They continue to evolve and , for me, The Great Escape Artist is a huge step forward for the band. Hopefully, there won’t be another 8 year wait for their next one.
The Great Escape Artist is out now.