As the frontman for late '80s legends Jane's Addiction, singer Perry Farrell mapped out an amphetamine dream of hard rock and roll fueled by the heedless roar of his band and the never-ending circus surrounding it. When Jane's was silenced, Farrell seemed to get lost in his new band, the space-rock freak show Porno for Pyros. Farrell's new gig sounded like a failed effort to fill a void, and the Pyros' music, lacking any real charge, wound up lost in the resonating feedback of Jane's Addiction's demise. But Farrell's muse is a wild bronco, and he can't sit musically still for long. Song Yet to Be Sung, his first solo record (his name alone graces the sleeve), may be the best post-Addiction move he's made.
Essentially an electronic record, Song blends Farrell's pleading, trilling voice with high-octane rhythmic beats, hints of reggae dub styling, Eastern weirdness, and spots of suave melody. Leading off with the daydream drip of "Happy Birthday Jubilee," Farrell displays a solid grasp and obvious affection for the tripping dance feel of house music. At times the music nudges too close to the post-gloom disco of New Order ("Our Song"), but mostly it stays on the happy/silly techno tip ("Say Something" is genuinely giddy). Farrell wisely chooses to keep his quirky vocals somewhere in the middle of the mix, leaving the bass lines and the beats right on top of everything else. Yet ambient electronic music, whether it's dance or atmospheric, is a tricky thing to sustain over the course of a full-length disc. It is repetitive by nature and works out best on darkened dance floors, chiming to the chaotic throb of strobe lights. And while Song may be Farrell's best post-Jane's work yet, it's ultimately just quaint and doesn't come close to transcendence. Instead, Farrell merely accommodates the electronic form to his own ambiguous needs long enough to make the album a dynamically challenged intrigue at best.