I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Fuck Nirvana.
Credit where credit is due, the real impetus for the alt-rock revolution of the early 1990's wasn't Seattle and Nirvana. It was Los Angeles, and Jane's Addiction. It was a bunch of strung-out arty metal types who had the nerve to name their band after a whore, to have one album cover depicting naked Siamese twins with their heads on fire and another showing a Santeria-influenced sculpture of a m‚nage a trois and when that album cover was yanked off the shelf, to replace it with a new cover showing only the First Amendment. It was a band with the cojones to sing, "nothing's shocking."
Times change in a decade. Where once Jane's Addiction warned parents that they had their children, the tables have turned: the band members are parents now, in their thirties and forties, married or just engaged to Carmen Electra. Three bassists have come and gone: the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea replaced original bassist Eric Avery. Martyn LeNoble, who played with Jane's Addiction's Perry Farrell and Stephen Perkins in Porno for Pyros, replaced Flea. Finally, Chris Chaney replaced LeNoble. The smack is gone, too, replaced by wine, and, well, Carmen Electra.
As might be expected, then, some of the urgency and originality that fueled the original lineup and made it so fresh is gone. Where once the band strove for artistic freedom and pushed the envelope with its music videos and album covers is a sense of packaging, of a record company tampering with an artistic vision, or worse, the lack of an artistic vision.
But if you can ignore that flaw, the album isn't half bad. Sure, much of it seems just as slick as its packaging, but at some point, it can be forgiven, especially with some of the songs on this album. "Just Because," the album's first single, is a catchy, hard-driving classic rock song. On "Hypersonic," the band sounds like itself, as Farrell croons over Perkins' pounding drums and guitarist Dave Navarro's always stellar guitar playing. "Suffer Some" brings back the funkiness of the original band's "Idiots Rule." And the whole album is imbued with a lush, textured, sound courtesy of former Pink Floyd producer Bob Ezrin.
You can't go home again, that's true. But sometimes, maybe that's a good thing.