The Great Escape Artist


Two decades have passed since the first time pioneering alt-rock band Jane’s Addiction broke up, imploding from within via a variety of personality conflicts. Since 1997 the group has reunited in fits and starts with a series of bass players filling in for reluctant original member Eric Avery, including Flea, Martyn LeNoble, Duff McKagan and Chris Chaney. Avery finally rejoined the band in 2008, only to jump ship again early last year—and his absence is felt on The Great Escape Artist. Avery’s assertive, hypnotic bass riffs were an essential part of the volatile energy that made the group both one of the most important of its era and one of the most fragile. Jane’s Addiction was the sound of four men pulling together and pulling apart simultaneously, and the effect was electrifying.

The group’s previous album, 2003’s Avery-less Strays (with Chaney on bass) was dishearteningly slick and safe; Escape Artist is richer, riskier and more diverse. Singer Perry Farrell, guitarist Dave Navarro and drummer Stephen Perkins wisely recruited
TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek as co-writer, multi-instrumentalist and all-around creative foil for the album. The sense of unpredictability that Avery brought remains notably absent, but Sitek and producer Rich Costey effectively replace it with vivid textures that bring out the killer hooks in tracks like “Irresistible Force (Met the Immovable Object)” and “Twisted Tales.” For the first time in the 21st century, Jane’s Addiction sounds comfortable being what it is instead of trying to recapture what it once was. –Chris Neal

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