It's important to keep a sense of perspective when wielding a hatchet. Sure, laying into a band when the music's horrible is arguably half of what being a hack is about, but it's never something to get too cosy with. Especially when the target band includes the likes of Dave Navarro and Stephen Perkins.
Jane's Addiction were one of the seminal bands of their day; their music was the flashpoint where goth, metal, punk, indie and funk fused and then flowered into a psychedelic hybrid which managed to trip you out while seeming simultaneously soothing and shredding. This is the band that, through Lollapalooza and their own heavy rotation on radio, kick-started the dominance of 'alternative-rock' in the early-'90s. Navarro and Perkins were a huge part of that; what have you done for the world lately?
Well, for a start, you haven't been a member of a band called The Panic Channel and so haven't been partially responsible for an album as turgid and as uninspiring as ONe. Strange as it may seem, these two founding members from Jane's Addiction - a band who were so far ahead of their time it beggared belief - have started a band whose sound is resolutely stuck in the past. After two or three listens you might be forgiven for checking the release date on the packaging. If ONe had been knocked out right after Jane's Addiction had split at the end of the first Lollapalooza tour, it would at least be understandable, if still not recommendable. As it is, you have to question the logic of a band who are appropriating a sound from a musical era that isn't that fondly remembered to begin with.
Remember Sponge? Come on! Who remembers Sponge? "I'm lost and I'm found and I can't touch the ground / I'm plowed into the sound"? No? How about Seven Mary Three? No? Eve 6? Remember a time when when Gavin Rossdale, despite fronting a top ten band that sold albums by the truckload, was treated like naval-lint by the music press? The time when grunge lost all of its sense of humour and most of its tunes? Well, ONe will take you right back there, but not in a good way, as it doesn't even compare with the leading lights of the mid-'90s wave of post-grunge fallout.
Perhaps the worst aspect of ONe is how on autopilot the band sounds. Even the flat-out rockers – like the opener, 'Teahouse Of The Spirits' – contain no guitar pyrotechnics and come off sounding limp and perfunctory. The best thing you could say about them is that they sound like Filter cast-offs. Elsewhere chord progressions become so predictable they tip off what’s to follow them – you actually find yourself able to hum some of the choruses before you hear them. Vocalist Steve Isaacs certainly has some impressive pipes – his delivery is favourably comparable in tone and range to a younger Chris Cornell – but his lyrical input doesn’t deviate from him tearing his heart out over women and the odd sideswipe at the Bush Administration. When a song does stand out from the chunky goth-metal whole, it’s usually because this cheese has started to veer into self-parody. One example is the mawkish 'Bloody Mary', a drudging four-minute ode to a drug dealer that undercuts a lot of the sympathy you may have had for the rest of the material.
Like a boxer who would've been turned into hamburger meat by Lennox Lewis, each song on ONe telegraphs every punch, sticking slavishly to a goth-rock playbook. Perkins and Navarro may get a free-pass into heaven for their work with Jane's Addiction, but they're not making it easy to love them in the meantime. And while it's easy to understand that they may have no desire to re-tread their past glories, their decision to sound like second-tier bands they would've trampled in their hey-day is incomprehensible._
3Nick Cowen's Score