A late-'80s landscape littered with crotch-stuffing, meatheaded, misogynistic hair farmers was ripe for change. And Perry Farrell -- looking like some primal, pre-op, transsexual pygmy -- was just the creature for the job. Donning a corset, dreadlocks, and goth whiteface and using his unique banshee wail, the singer/shaman armed himself with Dave Navarro's monster riffs and the tribal-rhythm team of Eric Avery and Stephen Perkins and went to work as Jane's Addiction. But the operation was only a partial success. The quartet succumbed to its excesses by way of a smack-induced coma before the task was complete, disbanding after its third album. Ultimately, Jane's Addiction only sowed the seeds for the alternative revolution, leaving groups like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Mudhoney to actually complete the task years later.
Now, after pulling a rock 'n' roll Rip Van Winkle, Jane's is back. The band has replaced Avery with Chris Chaney and issued Strays, its first full-length album of new material in 13 years. Say goodbye to the smack-fueled hedonism, Farrell's painstakingly crafted artwork for album covers, and a live show with all the stability of an impending train wreck. Say hello to slickly edited videos, ever-present Navarro muse Carmen Electra, and packaging with a decidedly self-congratulatory scent. Former producer Dave Jerden was justifiably given the boot, ridding the band of the tin-thin studio sonics most prevalent on Nothing's Shocking.
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The problem with Strays isn't what's present but that which is so sorely missing. Strays finds Jane's Addiction awakening after a long hiatus to find the music world finally celebrating the group as something that it no longer is: innovative. So with Strays, the group once again fails to complete its mission.