Music, Recorded, Reviews

Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Getaway album review

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It’s hard to believe the Red Hot Chili Peppers have now been in the game for over three decades. It’s a grand legacy that’s exemplified by their recent induction into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame.

But with their new album, The Getaway, the band has set out to shift the perception that their best days are behind them and have set their sights on getting back at the forefront of popular consciousness. But few bands succeed in arresting middle-age malaise and now shorn of a couple of core contributors the odds are stacked the RHCP doing so.

Guitarist John Frusciante was an integral part of the band’s shift from ’80s speed-funk-metal into a stadium-sized pop  behemoth in the ‘90s to ‘00s. He appeared on all but one of their records during the band’s golden era stretching from 1989’s Mother’s Milk to 2006’s overstuffed double album, Stadium Arcadium. The band’s extremely disappointing 1995 release One Hot Minute was recorded in his absence.

This is the first time the band have recorded an album without the legendary producer Rick Rubin since the early ’90s. Now it has teamed up with Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton (aka one half of Gnarls Barkley and the man behind too many pop hits to name).

Flea has also used seemingly leveraged his membership in Thom Yorke’s supergroup/sideshow Atoms for Peace to enlist band member and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich on mixing duties.

Rubin’s taut punchy production has long been an integral component of the RHCP sound so the switch to Burton has made an immediate impact. The Getaway is swamped in some quite beautiful orchestral flourishes that instantly distinguish it from some of the band’s prior music which isn’t surprising considering Burton’s love of lush production,

Some moments of The Getaway show flashes of the raw power of the band’s lock-step powers. The first single, Dark Necessities, swells on a gorgeous yet simple build up before it breaks down into a classic, funky Flea bass-riff.

Title track The Getaway pushes all the classic RHCP buttons — meaning it’s a pretty funky number with an amiable tune and whiplash bass riff.

The closing tracks The Hunter and Dreams of a Samurai show the band at more mediative moments that highlight its transition to spacey jam-rockers.

You don’t expect lyrics of a Dylan-esque level from singer Anthony Kiedis whose vocal style riffs between rock and roll and spitfire spoken rap in the space of a few bars. However it shouldn’t  be too much to demand something more comprehensible than: “Up to my ass in alligators/Let’s get it on with the alligator haters”.

Then there’s the awful Go Robot which sounds like a Flight of the Concords B-side stripped of all the fun. It relegates guitarist Josh Klinghoffer to atmospheric duties rather than facing off with Flea’s fretwork. It’s probably the most atrocious addition to the RCHP canon for a while . . . well, at least since the turgid depths of I’m With You a few years back.

The Getaway isn’t really RHCP by the numbers. They have certainly made an effort to push themselves to new places but it still feels like they are in the shadow of their heyday. It may not be enough to halt an inevitable age-induced decline but it does show the band graciously fighting against the fading light.

2 responses to “Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Getaway album review

  1. “This is the first time the band have recorded an album without the legendary producer Rick Rubin.” Rubin did not produce RCHP until around 1991 (ie about six albums in).

    ” singer Alex Kiedis” – Anthony Kiedis?

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