Album Review: Jane’s Addiction – The Great Escape Artist
Jane’s Addiction is back with their 4th studio album and their first in 8 years. The Great Escape Artist is a 10-track sonic tour de force due to be released everywhere October 18. This is classic Jane’s Addiction: sexy, dirty, and playful at times and epic at others. Like traveling through outer space surrounded by infinite calming beauty at one moment and flying through a supernova or an asteroid field the next.
The Great Escape Artist is a complete album that gets better with every listen. Original JA members Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, and Stephen Perkins with producer Rich Costey (Muse, Franz Ferdinand, Interpol) added TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek to write and play bass on the album. At 52 years old Perry is as vital as ever and accompanied by an inspired Dave Navarro to put together the next great chapter in the Jane’s Addiction legacy.
The first two singles “End to the Lies” and “Irresistible Force” can slide immediately and seamlessly into any JA greatest hits set. The first single “End to the Lies” is a dynamic second track that sets the tone for the album. Perry said it perfectly: “You never really change like they say, oh you only become more like yourself!” That message definitely applies to this quintessential JA album. Less psychedelic than Ritual de lo Habitual (there are no 8 minute epics like “3 Days”), The Great Escape Artist is more of a pure alternative album that has both JA’s classically frantic and twisted sounds as well as a new emotional stability that can only be a reflection of Perry’s own.
The album switches gears at track 5 with “I’ll hit you back” which marks a transition point in the album. Perry battles with maturity throughout the song: “Do I have to be the bigger man/ Always the better man/ … Forget that, forget that, forget then/ I want to hit you back!” Perry’s vocals are full of vitality and vulnerability and laid over Stephen Perkins driving drums in such a way that the emotional frustration of self-restraint jumps out of your speakers.
“Splash A Little Water on It” is an eerie and epic psychedelic lament for a friend’s treatment of a girl. “What you put her through, look and her/ try not to wake up the girl / What was she thinking, trying to keep up with you, every habit you have?/ Oh It’s cause she loves you, so don’t tell her she’s not lookin’ so good / Just splash a little water on it / See what you’re working with” and “I’ll call you later, I just don’t know when.” Navarro excels with a Queens of the Stone Age like guitar interlude, one of his best on the album, accompanied by Perkins’ windswept percussion that combine to create the pervading sense of isolation.
“Twisted Tales” and “Broken People” are beautiful and cathartic stories about human flaws told both from the first person and third person perspectives respectfully. “Twisted Tales” is a dark confessional imbued with regret and redemption through a woman while “Broken People” is a lament over the damaged people in his life he was unable to repair. These are two of the better songs on the album and provide a woeful serenity to the back half of the album. This is the maturity and experience of the newest incarnation of JA and part of what separates The Great Escape Artist from any other JA album. It may also end up being the most controversial for traditional JA fans.
“Words Right Out of My Mouth” is a fitting end to the 10-track album. It’s a wild and frantic carnival ride with Perry screaming and Navarro’s guitar wailing. “There’s birds up in the trees, my words they want to eat, they wait for me to speak, they swoop here and swallow them down.” It’s been 8 years since 2003’s Strays and 21 years since Ritual de lo Habitual, so that’s exactly how many JA fans have felt. “There are people on the ground, … [s]tarving for a morsel of sound.” Well, now we got it! The Great Escape Artist is the album JA fans have been waiting for! This is easily JA’s best synthesis of musical creativity and maturity.
The Great Escape Artist is available for digital pre-order on iTunes and CD pre-order on Amazon. It is available everywhere Oct. 18.
~ Jane’s Addiction’s 4th album, and first in 8 years, is as sexy and fun as their late ’80s and early ’90’s classics with take home and replay singles, while also giving fans something new. So check it out! If you’re a JA fan, or even just a rock and roll fan, this is an album that should be on your shelf.