Perry Farrell is a man of many faces. From Jane's Addiction through Porno For Pyros, the groundbreaking live music event Lollapalooza, and various solo and artistic projects, Farrell has not always been an easy one to pin down. At times unfocused creatively and struggling throughout the years to cut an identity of his own, Farrell's latest incarnation as urban rock hipster might be just the ticket to stabilize and focus his image once again, while putting the memories of bands gone past away for good. And at nearly 50 years old (how did that happen?) this smooth, melodic, and ultimately mainstream collection entitled Ultra Payloaded
comes not a moment too soon.
Coming with his new project Satellite Party and enlisting the likes of old friend Flea and new friends Peter Hook (of Joy Division / New Order fame) and Fergie for some tracks, Farrell has crafted a fun and funky album that is both unexpected and well suited to his talents. Lead off single Wish Upon A Dog Star
featuring Hook's unmistakable bass work is infectious from the first note out, and the New Order like bridge is sure to make more then a few think "I remember.....that". Only you don't, however familiar. Because this is all new, yet Farrell and company sound as if they have been playing together for twenty years rather then the actual two or three since this groups inception.
Which makes sense given the easy groove and flow found throughout the album. Seemingly calling on every phase of his music making career, Farrell front loads the album with catchy dance rock hooks that follow in the same vein as Wish Upon A Dog Star
, but eventually eases into the kind of eclectic pop that that was the specialty of Porno and the furious, sometimes dreamy kind of hard rock that made up some of Janes's best work. "Mmm, you were my secret lover / So I took you undercover" Farrell croons to begin the funk driven rocker Hard Life Easy
, and if that sounds a bit cheeky, well it is. And like much of this album it sounds like it came straight from some late '80's "Now That's What I Call Music, Alternative Edition" compilation. But this is what Perry does best and recalling this place in his musical history suits him just right.
Lyrically Farrell is where he has always been, and after the dance club like start of the album his vision comes through on the beautiful acoustic number Awesome
that sees Perry professing his love behind full strings and with soaring vocals. "They say the world is always turning / In suspended animation I keep yearning for you" go the heartfelt lyrics, followed by the equally engaging Mr Sunshine
that sees our guy proclaiming "We fell in love overnight / Good morning Mr. Sunshine / You brighten up my day". Not exactly I Been Caught Stealing
. But Farrell isn't exactly 25 anymore, either.
For Jane's fans their is the punked up fervor of Insanity Rains
with its spat out lyrics and heavy, grinding riffs, and cool funk of The Solutionists
that finds Perry and crew floating along on a wave of synths and floaty bass and guitar. So nothing is real different here, except that Farrell has managed to craft an album sure to please all his fans (and non fans, for that matter) from every phase of his sometimes frustrating career of making music and art. And on Ultra Payloaded the music and art come together in perfect unison. Which is a nice sound coming from this artist. Perhaps especially
from this artist.
Ultra Payloaded has a very retro sound to it. Not like the hip and obvious retro sounds coming from some bands today, but rather if you told someone who didn't know any better this album came from 1987 and was considered one of the better albums of the decade they would readily believe you. Its a richly textured, layered, and almost earnest
stab at everything this artist ever attempted to do before, all rolled up nice on one album. And for the most part Farrell pulls it off without a hitch. Been caught stealin'? Sure, mostly from himself. Good thing for the rest of us.