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JANE'S ADDICTION - Strays   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Monday, 25 October 2004

Reformations are never any good. Every band has its time, and then its gone. A reformation is often, far too often, just an excuse for the band to go back out on tour, play lots of old songs, make loads of money, get us to relive our past for a few brief minutes every few years, and Christ, do I feel old. I used to be able to do this all night long. Now Iím panting in the pit after a few minutes, wondering where my youth went. And wherever it went, did it have to take my hair with it?

I donít know of one band thatís reformed and still been good. New Order, maybe. Except they never split up. Echo And The Bunnymen? No way. Theyíre a history lesson. Who else? This lot. Janeís Addiction.

Thereís an old clichť. The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. And my God, Janeís Addiction burned. In that brief five year spell, between 1986 and 1991, they turned rock inside out. Sure. It was just Guitar. Bass. Drums. Just instruments. But where everyone else followed the rules, Janeís Addiction made their own. They followed their own road. And where weíre going we donít need roads.

Seriously. Nobody should be this good. Definitely not in their mid forties, their brains addled with money and drugs and zen philosophy, tripping out of rehab, covered in tattoos, washed up junky ex-rock stars who lost it down the dealers. But this is everything Janeís Addiction are : they were never about doing what youíre meant to, theyíre always about doing what you want. Ainít no wrong, ainít no right. Only pleasure and pain. And this, this is pleasure.

Dammit. They still sound like teenagers, they still sound driven, vital, alive. From the first, damning song - the awesome riffs-like-a-tin-opener 'True Nature' that melds cod-hippy philosophy with a roar stronger than an ocean wave - to the final, aspirational 'To Match The Sun', 'Strays' is the next logical step. No longer the sound of a band tearing itself apart in an orgy of nihilistic existential excess, but the sound of a band which is so much more than the sum of its parts. A build that used itís energies to build something new.

Put these four guys in a room and some magic happens. Something that wasnít there before is conjured out of the atmosphere. Some sense of aspiration, some sense of exploration. When people would say 'Why?' Janeís Addiction say 'Why not?'. No longer is it a question, but an invitation. Take a step inside.

But what does it sound like? It sounds like no other band in the world. On an endless quest to find the perfect song. Their erratic, experimental time signatures, their stuttering, pioneering guitar lines, and the otherworldly alien screech of lyrics. It shouldnít sound right, but it does. More than right. It sounds perfect.

Itís as if someone took everything about Janeís Addiction you might not like (their lumpen forays into experimentalism and leftfield minimalism), grafted slabs of pure hard rock onto it, stripped out the bullshit and just got on with the job. Sure, there are moments of lumpen funk ('Wrong Girl' wouldnít sound out of place on a Chilli Peppers album), and odd moments where things donít seem quite perfect, but 'Strays' is a record that towers over every other released this year. In itís sheer scope and scale, it is the type of music that wants to change the world : it sounds like the peak of mountains, the roar of oceans, the summit of achievement. This isnít a record : itís a work of art.


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