June 3, 2019 Perry Farrell – Kind Heaven (Album Review)
Multi-faceted Vocalist Perry Farrell has found his way back into a recording studio, and the result is his album Kind Heaven, out Friday, June 7th through BMG.
Known for his work with Jane’s Addiction and its spiritual successor Porno for Pyros, Kind Heaven marks the first album of original material for Farrell since Jane Addiction released The Great Escape Artist in 2011, with the last release under his own name coming as Song Yet to Be Sung a decade earlier.
Nominally a solo effort, Kind Heaven is anything but, as Farrell is backed by the Kind Heaven Orchestra, which includes wife Etty Lau Farrell on vocals, veteran Drummer Matt Chamberlain, Guitarist Nick Maybury, Bassist Chris Cheney, and Keyboardist Matt Rohde, the latter two fresh from recent work with Jane’s Addiction. Guest appearances also dot the album, notably Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters and Elliot Easton of the Cars, with Composer Harry Gregson Williams and Electronica legend Joachim Garraud lending hands as needed. Adding to it all, Farrell co-produced the final work with Tony Visconti, a longtime collaborator of David Bowie.
While the plethora of musicians makes for quick work and varied structures, the overflow of talent also limits the formation of a concrete narrative. Even musically, the album dips back and forth from slow, languid material such as “One,” while the sweeping closer “Let’s All Pray for This World” incorporates an instrumental array worth of the orchestra moniker. That said, the literal doot-doots of “Spend the Body” are another lost opportunity because by the time the song begins to pick up pace and control the listener’s attention, its four short minutes expire.
Then the punctual “(red, white, and blue) Cheerfulness” with a guest spot from Foo Fighter’s Taylor Hawkins gets things started on a strong proper foot, as if Belle & Sebastian hired Perry Farrell to re-imagine their outfit as a Rock-n-Roll band. Furthermore, the fun Aggro-techno Pop tune “Pirate Punk Politician” is not meant to be vague about its subject matter. A corresponding video was released in late May, featuring work by the Mortis artist collective. All this in mind, the song itself is a dance-ably caustic mixture of Hard Rock and Techno vibes, with Farrell’s distinct voice at the center. Politics aside—an almost laughable disclaimer for a work this visceral—”Pirate Punk Politician” emerges as the best song on the album, though in doing so, it demonstrates how disposable some of the other tracks appear.
An awkward change of pace, “Where Have You Been All My Life” features layered and obscure Farrell vocals, and while this is not a new technique for his fans, the corresponding instrumentation is neither dense enough to take his place, nor light enough to match his detachment. Thereafter “Snakes Have Many Hips” is a piano-laden rumble that mixes orchestral strings with Farrell’s vocals, traversing several different planes and volumes to effectively plant the song within the furthest reaches of the listener’s short- and long-term memory. Meanwhile, “Machine Girl” has a deeper Perry on lead vocals, while the chorus, peppered with guest voices, returns to his familiar tones.
In addition to standing on its own feet, Kind Heaven serves as a titular precursor to the opening of Kind Heaven, a diverse music and entertainment experience slated to open in 2020 at the Linq Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. A seemingly commercial tie-in is old territory for Farrell; the popular Lollapalooza festival began as a going-away celebration for then-retiring Jane’s Addiction, and under various monikers and acts, Farrell has managed to appear at every single Coachella festival to date, keeping the prospect afloat during its nascent period.
However, taken as a musical escapade alone, without the corresponding tour, multimedia experience, and the zeitgeist of its release, Kind Heaven may fall a bit short of its promise to some. Even with the understanding that this is a larger project, collected under the Perry Farrell name alone, there are too many disparate ideas to focus on and follow for what is essentially a solo record. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Kind Heaven 3.5 out of 5 stars.