Before getting a hold of the music for this new release, I went back to my Jane’s Addiction records to brush up a bit Perry Farrell. In doing so, I was quickly reminded of one simple fact: similar to the likes of Johnny Rotten and Jim Morrison, Mr. Farrell’s signature croon is his biggest contribution to music, hands down. And it’s something that will always set his bands apart, no matter where and when he appears.
But Farrell’s studio output has been patchy since the glory days of Jane’s in the late 80s, his brief flash during the 90s with Porno for Pyros, plus some stints here and there. That all seems to be changing with this, his first solo album in nearly two decades, Kind Heaven.
Co-produced by Tony Visconti—the man at the helm for several David Bowie’s best works—Kind Heaven has a big, rich sound, right out of the gate with “(red, white, and blue) Cheerfulness,” which sets the tone with its idiosyncratic swagger, choppy guitars, and Farrell’s equally quirky vocals. The song’s got a 60s flair with some psychedelic touches that enhance the experience.
First single “Pirate Punk Politician” has a very tech-y, almost industrial feel, circa late 90s, based atop a vintage Jane’s Addiction groove, a la the Entourage theme song, “Superhero.” While its lyrics may be relevant in this day and age (“I’m your so-called president”), the overall sound feels a bit dated and uninspired. Another oddball is “Snakes Have Many Hips,” with its lounge-y feel and infectious piano riffs. “Machine Girl” perks things up and features Farrell’s wife Etty Lau Farrell for a driving groove that recalls Prince in spots.
The balance of Kind Heaven is a mix of EDM, rock, and orchestral elements that make it a truly eclectic affair, even if some of it sounds a bit forced in spots, as in the epic closer “Let’s All Pray for This World.” While impressive in scope and its massive production values courtesy of Visconti, it melodramatic feel sounds a bit like something you’d hear in a Coke commercial during the holidays.