Ritual De Lo Habitual

Jane's Addiction

Warner Brothers Records, 1990


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Try as I have, I've never quite understood the draw that Perry Farrell has. His stints with Jane's Addiction and Porno For Pyros have left him as one of the leading figures in alternative rock in the early '90s, but I've never found a lot of his music that accessible.

Case in point: Ritual De Lo Habitual, Jane's Addiction's 1990 album that would be the band's "last" album (until a recent reunion). While there is some great material on this album, there also is a lot of self-indulgent material, results that occur when one takes themselves too seriously.

The album's opener, "Stop," is a great way to kick things off, featuring Dave Navarro's kinetic guitar work. As a frustrated guitar player, I used to slap this tape into my cheesy stereo in college, strap on my Gibson SG, turn both up to eleven, and attempt to shred along with Jane's Addiction. (I was able to fake it pretty good, until the solo kicked in.) The energy on this song is infectious, and seems to hold the promise of great things to come.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Unfortunately, things really don't catch on until "Been Caught Stealing," the song that will probably define Jane's Addiction for the remainder of time. Tracks like "Ain't No Right" and "No One's Leaving" just don't hold the same kind of creative fire that the two "bookend" tracks on side one have. They still are listenable, though they're nothing worth writing home about.

The second half of Ritual De Lo Habitual contains the least rock-oriented material, but it also contains the more enjoyable, cerebral material from Jane's Addiction. "Three Days" might scare some people off with its length, but it's so enjoyable that, before you know it, the track is over. "Of Course" locks into an Indian rhythmic pattern (something that seems to fit Farrell's voice the best) and is one that you'll find yourself grooving to. The album's closer, "Classic Girl," is also very enjoyable.

The biggest problem I have with Ritual De Lo Habitual is that if you don't get Farrell and crew's message and meaning early on, you feel lost throughout the rest of the album. Sure, tracks like "Stop" and "Been Caught Stealing" have garnered radio airplay, and they seem approachable enough. But by the time you hit tracks like "Obvious," don't be surprised if you're left scratching your head. (Cripes, I've owned this album for eight years, and I still don't get it.)

Of course, some people wanted to make a bigger deal out of the cover (which feature papier-mache dolls of Farrell and two women in various states of undress) than the music. And maybe people did buy this for a cover photo of Farrell's doll character with his johnson partially dangling from behind a sheet. (I dunno, I don't find papier-mache erotic.) For the critics, four words: It's the music, stupid.

Ritual De Lo Habitual might have been the swan song for Jane's Addiction, but there are times that this bird sang some tunes that were confusing to my ears. This album is very much hit-or-miss; just be careful walking through the landmined fields.

Rating: C+

User Rating: B



© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers Records, and is used for informational purposes only.