Unlike most musician gurus who could accurately be called artrock entrepreneurs and who have often been accused of self-indulgence Perry Farrell isn't interested in weirdness for weirdness' sake. Whether playing cockeyed Led Zeppelin-influenced post-punk with Jane's Addiction, annoying record retailers with his notquite-pornographic cover art or founding the global teen love-in known as Lollapalooza, Farrell is forever inventing outlets for his fecund imagination. The musical style he launched 10 years ago in Los Angeles a sort of spiky, soaring, expressionist folk music is in the same emotional register as his peculiar lyrical takes on the mundane and the fantastic.
On this second Porno for Pyros outing, Farrell imports a handful of alternative celebrities. The kickoff "Porpoise Head" employs the somnambulant charms of the Love and Rockets trio to work the song's sense of druggy submersion. Farrell borrows back the ex-Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro (now raking it in with Red Hot Chili Peppers) and also recruits Flea for the uninteresting "Freeway." And L.A. legend Mike Watt plays bass on the generous-hearted love song an underrated Farrell forte "100 Ways."
"Tahitian Moon" comes close to sounding straightforward it actually rocks in the usual sense, and it sports a consistent rhythm and many hummable vocal moments. But the highlight of Good God's Urge is the searing title song, which is split into two moods that make alternate pleas for compassion and fury. The subsequent "Wishing Well" is just as beautiful but calmer, a dense meditation on loss and faith with all of the nerve endings exposed. Farrell's allusive, metaphorical lyrics work their eerie magic throughout, but even the poet in him understands that such tropes aren't always the most expressive. On the thumping noir "Dogs Rule the Night," Farrell conveys his admiration for the beasts with childlike directness: "In the pack they're very brave/And then after dark/Underneath the moon!/Know what I mean?" Well put and idiosyncratic, like this strange, thoughtful collection of songs. (RS 736)
(Posted: Feb 2, 1998)
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