Home Read Classic Album Review: Jane’s Addiction | Strays

Classic Album Review: Jane’s Addiction | Strays

The indie-rock legends change their tune on their first album in 13 long years.


This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Before you listen to Jane’s Addiction’s new CD, please do me (and yourself) a favour: Go to the mirror and take a good, long look. Are you exactly the same as you were 13 years ago? No? Not surprisingly, on Strays — their first album of all-new material since 1990’s Ritual de lo Habitual — neither are Jane’s Addiction.

Oh sure, the old familiar characteristics are all still there: Frontman Perry Farrell’s soaring, shamanic vocals; guitarist Dave Navarro’s searing solos and aggressive metal-funk riffage; and drummer Stephen Perkins’ rock-solid, understated grooves (bassist Eric Avery sat this one out, replaced here by former Alanis Morissette sideman Chris Chaney). But on these 11 Bob Ezrin-produced tracks, those strengths are reconfigured and redeployed in pursuit of a distinctly different set of artistic goals.

You won’t find much here that’s as organically hooky as Been Caught Stealing, or anything as punky as Stop, or anything as grandly monumental as Mountain Song. Instead, you’ll find nearly 50 minutes of loosely structured, freewheeling songs that are more influenced by the trippy synth textures of electronica and the endless circular grooves of house music than by the immediacy of punk and the bombast of ’70s rock. With their stylish combination of Zeppelinesque guitar crunge, infectious grooves and neo-psychedelic squiggles, many of these tunes sound more like the work of a heavier Red Hot Chili Peppers or even The Music than the Jane’s of old. (Indeed, it’s hard not to wonder just how old some of these tracks are; the names of former Farrell collaborators like David J and Martyn LeNoble turn up in the credits with curious frequency.)

It’s not as if these new cuts aren’t worthy, mind you. The swaggering True Nature, the darkly powerful title track, the fuzzy Superhero, the slinky Wrong Girl, the skittery Hypersonic and even the solar-powered rocker To Match the Sun have enough going for them to hook a new generation of Jane’s addicts. Older and more discriminating fans, however, may prefer to remember Perry and co. the way the were.


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