Jane's Addiction end an eight year absence from the record making game with 'The Great Escape Artist,' an album surprisingly light on guitars that instead finds the band dabbling in electronic-influenced alternative rock.

Resident guitar hero Dave Navarro spends much of his time playing keyboards or adding spacey and complimentary guitar lines to the proceedings, as opposed to leading the charge into battle with distorted riffs as he did throughout much of albums such as 'Nothing's Shocking.'

In fact, in terms of material and sonics, 'The Great Escape Artist' is much closer to Farrell's trippy and downright danceable 2001 solo album 'Song Yet to be Sung' than it is to anything from the Jane's catalog.

Still, the presence of Navarro, drummer Stephen Perkins and bassist Chris Chaney are more than enough to keep one foot planted firmly in the rock world. Their playing turns 'Irresistible Force' into a galaxy-exploring epic that recalls the moody, dramatic scope of much of their best past work.

Together with the heavier emphasis on keyboards, the album's new refined (for them) approach has Jane's Addiction sounding like a grittier, improved version of late-era U2 on 'Curiosity Kills' and 'Twisted Tales.'

When Navarro does turn up in full guitar glory, like on the solo of 'Underground' or the middle of 'Splash a Little Water on it,' you feel a heightened effect as the result of his restraint on the rest of the album.

Somewhat ironically for a band that keeps on changing bassists, the instrument remains among the most vital and up-front parts of 'The Great Escape Artist,' as well as the connective tissue to the group's earlier work.

A typically big, bold line is the centerpiece of album opener 'Underground,' and throughout the record Chaney, Navarro and TV on the Radio member (and 'Escape' producing contributor) Dave Sitek deliver meaty, prominent bass parts that nicely balance the album's more experimental leanings.

The hooks on 'The Great Escape Artist' aren't as immediate, or most likely, as permanently memorable as Jane Addiction's best work, but they're damn good, especially on the absolutely genius 'Broken People,' and it's great to see the band exploring new territory while retaining their own idiosyncratic nature.


More From Ultimate Classic Rock