Posted on December 12, 2009 -
If you listen to bands like Nickelback, Puddle Of Mudd, and Staind, chances are two things are the case: a), you’re a complete lame-o and you need to stop letting mainstream radio tell you what to think, and b), you’ve never heard “Ritual de lo Habitual.” This is yet another of those albums that I regret not having gotten a lot sooner. Long before the bands mentioned above were making the genre look bad with their manufactured angst and laughably tedious songs, Jane’s addiction were playing music that made the term “alternative rock” mean something. If you’ve just heard the uber-catchy hit “Been Caught Stealing,” you’ve only heard the beginning of what the guys achieved here, as this album displays virtually limitless amounts of talent and creativity. In the singular vocalist Perry Farrell and staggeringly underrated guitarist Dave Navarro, Jane’s addiction were led by doubtless one of the great one-two punches of our time. Dave’s searing riffs and blazing solos are the kind that get stuck in your head for days after you hear them, and Perry’s demented wail remains distinctive and instantly recognizable to this day. What’s most impressive about “Ritual de lo Habitual” is that its nine tracks are basically split into two different, if equally great, albums. The album starts out with five hard-driving rock songs with a psychedelic feel, equal measures explosive, trippy, and funky. “No One’s Leaving” and “Been Caught Stealing” are the obvious standouts among this first batch of songs, but each one displays the band’s own mix of manic, frenetic energy; intricate songwriting; and astounding technical skill. These songs have the sound of a group of guys who truly enjoy what they’re doing, a commodity that’s becoming increasingly rare in today’s mainstream climate. It’s after “Been Caught Stealing” that the band throws a series of changeups, showing a commitment to diversity and experimentation that truly separates the artists from the hacks. The last four songs on this album are typically slower and quieter than their predecessors, but by no means lacking in power or craftsmanship. You’ve got to respect a band that would follow up a string of hard rock songs with the mountainous epic “Three Days,” the slow-burning “Then She Did…” and “Classic Girl,” and the captivating, Eastern-tinged “Of Course.”Unfortunately, history hasn’t been quite as kind to this album as it was to the likes of “Ten” or “Nevermind.” I don’t think it gets the recognition it deserves as one of alternative’s defining moments, but discerning fans should be able to appreciate its greatness pretty quickly. “Ritual de lo Habitual” gets my highest recommendation.