Album: Jane's Addiction

Strays, Parlophone
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Given the current metal-friendly state of US music tastes, this reunion album from the Nineties outrage-rockers Jane's Addiction is undoubtedly a strong commercial move. But coming after the febrile pop experimentation of Porno for Pyros and his shamanic Song Yet to be Sung solo debut, it's hard to regard Strays as anything other than a retrograde artistic movefor JA's frontman Perry Farrell. More than a decade on from their creative peak, Ritual de lo Habitual, little seems to have changed. Despite the attentions of the top-drawer classic-rock producer Bob Ezrin, their sound is still distinctively shrill and spiky, and Farrell's concerns remain much the same: enthusiasm for good times and strong women; admonition of environmental despoilers; a general iconoclastic bloody-mindedness which this time doesn't lead the band quite close enough to the edge. "I always do the wrong thing/ But for a very good reason," Farrell says in "Price I Pay", the most convincing exposition of his attitude. "Always having a good time/ Always searchin' for more/ Flying now/ Paying later." The lust-for-life theme is taken up again in "The Riches", but the energy of the song is dissipated as it progresses through an ambitious multi-sectioned arrangement to nowhere in particular. Farrell remains one of rock's more interesting lyricists, however, particularly on the opening "True Nature", a veiled critique of US interventionism that contains guitarist Dave Navarro's best work alongside Farrell's sly assessment, "Come to rescue you/ Just to lien [sic] on you".