I feel bad for Alt Rock. Really, I do. It started as the alternative to conventional rock, but became a victim of its own success, rendering its name a bit erm….facetious. It seems only logical then, that one of premier Alt Rock bands almost embodies this slightly iffy history, experimenting with many different sounds and styles and ending up with a somewhat-but-really -not-quite product.
This might be Jane’s Addiction’s most lauded album and all that, but I’m not convinced. I’ll start with the singer. To many, Perry Farrell might be distinctive and charismatic and all that, but to me he is a cross between Geddy Lee and Dave Mustaine on “Tornado of Souls”. And not really in a good way (how could that mix be good anyway?). Now ordinarily, an average singer (which Perry Farrell is) doesn’t necessarily ruin a good song. But you know something is wrong when an already average song is shittified by a burst of contrived pseudo-creativity. I’m talking about “Of course”, which is ruined by the urchin-like ‘La-La La-la’ of Farrell. You’d think this is enough for most. But no, the rest of it is also really annoying, with a thoughtless violin solo going on throughout the song, which basically is an unsuccessful attempt at an eastern music sensibility. Yes, the ethnic sound is interesting, but only for the first five minutes. And the ‘la-la’ is so annoying!
This is a tiresomely repetitive album, with the occasional string part and non-catchy music that really isn’t compelling enough even otherwise by way of wonderful musicianship. It tries to be energetic and funky in the beginning, and like most men, begins to sag around the middle, and ends with the completely pointless “Classic Girl” which in itself ends with a completely pointless “good night”, whispered by the singer. Pointless.
The one bright spot in the album is “Been caught stealing”, which really swings, and has an almost danceable groove, which for some reason brings Zepplin’s “Trampled Underfoot” to mind. Good stuff. Our collective joy is short lived, though, as soon the album deigns to return to the desperately long “Three Days”, which despite interesting Ringo-ish retro drumming sometime in the beginning, is much too full of no-thanks moments to be compelling.
If you are wondering why I didn’t talk about the other members of the band, it’s because I’ve completely forgotten about how they sound. The guitarist sounds like just that. A guitarist. Nothing more, nothing less. Mr. Bass Player tries to inject a unique sound by spacious and melodic basswork, but it really leaves nothing but a ping on the consciousness. Think of a solitary drop of lemon slathered on a dull, leafy salad, and one starts to get the picture. It’s might be an honest attempt, but then who remembers an attempt to climb Mt. Everest? Only the ones who are successful and the ones who go down in flames are remembered. But oh no, our bass player doesn’t go up in flames. That honour goes to the singer. I have nothing to say about the drummer except maybe….blah.
You see, this is a worrisome album. Sure it’s experimentative, but that doesn’t really cut it. It doesn’t. Before I gave this album a committed listen, I had always thought of Alternative as one of those things that I should have listened to, but had never quite got around to hearing. But if this album is anything to go by, I’m convinced I’m not missing out on much at all. As an album to be approached as a cohesive work, Ritual De Lo Habitual is not worth hearing more than once. I’ve heard it twice over just to be sure about that. If this is the best Alt Rock can give me, I want none of it. This does not sound right.