Back in the pre-grunge glory days, Jane's Addiction offered modern rock heads an exhilarating update on the pyrotechnic fuelled stadium rock swagger of Led Zeppelin. Pivoting around the unadulterated rifferama of guitarist Dave Navarro and flamboyant vocalist Perry Farrell's fractured to the point of paranoid lyrical flourishes, on seminal albums such as Nothing is Shocking (1988) and Ritual de lo Habitual (1990) Jane's celebrated an unadulterated amalgam of post-glam hard rock power.
After a stereotypical drug and girl trouble implosion and a subsequent decade spent dabbling in misfires such as Porno for Pyros, the eternal outsider Farrell is back in the big time. And the good news is that Strays sounds pretty much like any Jane's Addiction album. The sonic blueprint remains defiantly intact with downbeat ballads ("Strays", "Price I Pay") oscillating into sleazy power chord funk and metal workouts, injecting those signature epic out of key vocal wails with a rapturous rock 'n roll ecstasy. While unashamed radio-ready anthems like "True Nature" and "Suffer Some" abound, the fact that Jane's refuse to descend into the bombastic balls to the wall bluster of the nu-metal generation makes each intricate rock exercise sound curiously anachronistic.
Rather than tread-water in any specific generic quagmire, the band continually change gears moving from frenzied post-punk bar room blues speed jams ("Hypersonic") to psychedelic Guns 'n Roses styled hair metal power ballads ("To Match the Sun").
It's a savvy sonic move that cleverly leapfrogs the current garage rock fad paving the way for a full-blown retro-rock obsession.
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