Parlaphone - 2003 - 48 minutes

I had finally waved farewell to my school years and was about to embark on a protracted and often fruitless college career. It was summer and the road ahead was full of possibility, freedom, style deficit in the manner of a 'grunge' wardrobe and lots of outdoor drinking. And the unifying factor of all this newfound hedonism was a soundtrack provided by Jane's Addiction.

'Summer Time', 'Ocean Size', 'Jane Says' and the inimitable 'Been Caught Stealing' were listened to and sung at every available opportunity. The music was a common bond that solidified lifelong friendships - we liked Jane's Addiction and so we knew who we were. Alas, by the time we had discovered the band, Perry Farrell et al were already on the verge and their final drug fuelled split put an end to the promise of a follow up to 1990's 'Ritual De Lo Habitual'.

The intervening years brought a growing taste in music for me and Porn For Pyros for Perry Farrell, while Dave Navarro lent his distinctive guitar sound to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Following a brief reunion tour across the States in 1997, the band decided to regroup and record new material. And the long awaited result was worth the wait.

Lately, finding myself worryingly drawn to Justin Timberlake and Beyonce, I was unsure whether I'd still like the sonic-punk and psychedelic funk of Jane's Addiction. But as Farrell's voice announces their return with a signature 'here we go' on 'True Nature', I'm brought straight back to the summer of 1992 with the intervening years melting away.

The evidence of the band's dynamic - a combination of Farrell's unique vocal and Navarro's melodic guitar - is still in abundance on tracks such as 'Strays', 'Superhero' and 'Everyone's Friend', while 'Just Because' and 'Price I Pay' are highlights for me as they're the closest to earlier songs.

Overall, 'Strays' is rockier than 'Nothing's Shocking' and 'Ritual De Lo Habitual' with none of the tracks coming close to the epic sweep of 'Ocean's Size' or the melodic grittiness of 'Jane Says'. However, the magic is still there and long may it continue.

Liz O'Neill

Tracklisting: True Nature - Strays - Just Because - Price I Pay - The Riches - Superhero - Wrong Girl - Everyone's Friend - Suffer Some - Hypersonic - To Match The Sun