Jane’s Addiction evolves, but retains identity with ‘The Great Escape Artist’

Jane’s Addiction has been called many things – alternative rock, art-metal, essential 90s music, and just plain weird – but they’ve never been generic. With their new album of atmospheric alt-rock, entitled The Great Escape Artist , Jane’s Addiction proves that the group can musically evolve without losing its distinct identity. The biggest part of Jane’s Addiction’s signature sound has always been the diverse, high-pitched, and somewhat nasal vocals of lead singer Perry Farrell. Farrell manages to retain his classic sound on songs like “End to the Lies” and “Words Right out of My Mouth” while displaying significant range and growth on “Ultimate Reason” and the ballad “Broken People.” The vocals aren’t the only part of Jane’s Addiction that have a distinguished flavor, though. Guitarist Dave Navarro is known for his unique style, which seamlessly blends and transitions between heavy and atmospheric. Navarro’s playing on The Great Escape Artist has an apparent Pink Floyd influence, especially on lead single “Irresistible Force,” where he plays a melodic, David Gilmour-like solo and more understated parts on verses and choruses. Perhaps the biggest obstacle for Jane’s on this record has been the rhythm section. Founding member and bassist Eric Avery left the band in early 2010 and was replaced for several months by former Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver bassist Duff McKagan, who toured with the group and assisted in the writing process. Upon McKagan’s departure, TV on the Radio bassist Dave Sitek was recruited and wound up splitting bass duties with Navarro and additional bassist Chris Chaney. Throughout this quagmire of bassists coming and going, the constant in the rhythm section has been long-time drummer Stephen Perkins. While the rhythm section on The Great Escape Artist doesn’t necessarily stand out much, it does provide significant backing, especially on “Irresistible Force.” The one drawback on The Great Escape Artist is that several of the songs, especially in the middle of the album, start to run together. “I’ll Hit You Back” and “Twisted Tales” seem like filler, and “Splash a Little Water on It” is needlessly the longest song on the album, clocking in at 5:14 (gone are the days of longer Jane’s songs like “Three Days” and the classic “Ted, Just Admit It”). While the atmospheres and diversity of The Great Escape Artist show significant evolution in the history of Jane’s Addiction, it simply can’t compare to albums like Nothing’s Shocking and Ritual De Lo Habitual , which are not only great albums in the history of Jane’s Addiction but the history of alternative rock. While this won’t necessarily be an instant classic, it is a must-hear for fans of alternative music. Overall rating: 7/10