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Red Hot Chili Peppers – The Getaway

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Jun 22, 2016.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    Sometimes with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, it’s best to think of Anthony Kiedis and his vocal lines as just another instrument in the mix. There’s at least a little bit of evidence that the frontman views himself that way, too. As New York Times journalist Nate Chinen wrote in his review of the Peppers’ new album, The Getaway, Kiedis “writes lyrics with rhythmic cadence first and foremost, which means that there will always be bursts of babble.” RHCP have always been a band whose foundation is rhythm, from their early days as a funk band to their transition into more conventional alt-rock territory with 1999’s Californication. With a rhythm section as talented and dynamic as Flea and Chad Smith, it’s tough to blame Kiedis for wanting to write lyrics that allow for better beat and syncopation. The negative consequence to that impulse is that Kiedis is very frequently singing lyrics that, while they might mean something to him, don’t carry much weight for the average listener.

    The Getaway doesn’t really change this fact. There are the requisite mentions of California (the steady surf-pop of the title track) and not-so-sly references to the band name (“We Turn Red,” which sounds like it could have been a b-side of virtually any other RHCP album). Even the terrific lead single, “Dark Necessities,” doesn’t have that much to offer lyrically. “Stumble down to the parking lot/You got no time for the afterthought/They’re like ice cream for an astronaut/Well that’s me looking for weed.” Here, and in plenty of other places, it sounds a bit like Kiedis just searched words on RhymeZone and wrote lyrics to create rhymes—not to cultivate meaning. And while the frontman has offered a bit of detail on why he wrote the song — saying, “[it] speaks to the beauty of our dark sides and how much creativity and growth and light actually comes out of those difficult struggles that we have on the insides of our heads that no one else can see,” — it’s still kind of tough to delve into his lyrics beyond the surface level.

    But such has almost always been true about Red Hot Chili Peppers. Kiedis has written great songs — mostly because of his gift for catchy melodies — but only the ones that open up about his drug addiction are particularly compelling lyrically. Other times, his lyrics are just a device to tie the songs together and provide a melodic foundation that the rest of the band can use to create stunning musical arrangements. After 2011’s I’m with You, it seemed like maybe he’d lost that gift. Overlong, poorly produced, and rarely interesting from either a musical or lyrical perspective, I’m with You was one of the weakest records in the Peppers’ storied discography. Coming off the momentum of their on-top-of-the-world double album experiment (2006’s Stadium Arcadium), I’m with You raised the question of whether or not it was time for these guys to go their separate ways. It didn’t help that John Frusciante — the clear driving force of the band on both Stadium and 2002’s By the Way — had departed the band for the second time, replaced by the largely ineffectual Josh Klinghoffer.

    The Peppers all bounce back on The Getaway. Flea is more present; Kiedis has rediscovered his gift for melody; and Smith’s drums have a furor to them that was lacking on I’m with You. Most of all, Klinghoffer has found his niche in the band. When the band recorded I’m with You, Klinghoffer and the other three members had never played a live show together. They were figuring out the chemistry in the studio as they wrote and recorded songs, which obviously wasn’t the best recipe for a tight-knit sound. The Getaway comes five years later, which means that Klinghoffer isn’t the new guy anymore, and it shows in the songs. From his spidery, wall-scaling riffs in “Goodbye Angels” to his ’70s R&B grooving on “Sick Love,” he’s clearly come into his own here. Often, he sounds just like Frusciante. This record is also littered with high vocal harmonies like the ones Frusciante used to provide, so maybe someone told Klinghoffer to emulate his idol a bit more. At least if the band is still working in the long shadows of their former guitarist, though, they are doing so with better results than last time.

    It doesn’t hurt that The Getaway is probably the best-sounding RHCP album ever. After many, many years of working with Rick Rubin, the band decided it was time for a change. Taking the producer’s chair is another living legend, in the form of Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton. Like Rubin, Danger Mouse is a producer that I personally find a tad overrated. His production style is overly vanilla to my ears, and has resulted in some surprisingly negative results over the years—from shrink-wrapping U2’s sound on Songs of Innocence to taking any soul and attitude that the Black Keys had out of their music on Turn Blue. As it turns out, though, the Peppers’ mix of SoCal pop, funk, disco, and ’70s R&B is the perfect match for Burton’s abilities. These songs have plenty of sheen, but it suits the band and underlines their musical abilities without making anything sound artificial. The mixing (courtesy of Nigel Godrich) and the mastering (Stephen Marcussen) are also exquisite, at last freeing RHCP from the influence of loudness war hack Vlado Meller.

    Of course, all of these tweaks—a new producer, a better master, improved chemistry among this incarnation of the band—would be for naught if the songs weren’t any good. For the most part, they are. “Dark Necessities” in particular, is the band’s finest single in years, a dark, slowed-down disco song where keyboards, a knockout chorus, and a lengthy intro single-handedly bring the band back from the dead. This album is at its best while in the slower, more atmospheric ends of the tempo spectrum, as with the lush and beautiful “Encore,” or “The Hunter,” a desolate and cinematic number that recalls U2’s “Love is Blindness.” Virtually every song here has something to offer, though, from the indelible chorus of “The Longest Wave” to “Sick Love,” a foot-tapping groover that was co-written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. There aren’t as many lofty highlights as there were on Californication, By the Way, or even Stadium Arcadium, but front-to-back, The Getaway is the band’s best and most cohesive record since 2002. Frankly, it’s a return to form that I hadn’t ever expected to hear.

    150Wrds likes this.
  2. 150Wrds


    Agree with every point in this, great write-up and a really enjoyable record.
    Craig Manning likes this.
  3. I've never been a huge Peppers fan, but I'm enjoying this a lot more than I expected to. Nice review!
  4. Jackbo487


    I've had this album on repeat since it came out. Very pleasantly surprised by the variety of songs & styles on this one. Love, love, LOVE the chorus of The Longest Wave, it almost sounds like a Britpop song during some of the guitar parts (or maybe it just reminds me of the Verve overall)?

    Wasn't expecting this to be such an improvement over I'm With You, but I'm glad it is, for sure.
  5. Bartek T.

    D'oh! Prestigious

    Good one, I've just listened to it a few times to start fights with crazy people on my fb feed that keep saying Josh K. isn't too good at guitar, I was sure they must be delusional, and I was correct, at least as far as I'm concerned.
  6. Ska Senanake


    It's not a matter of him being a good guitarist. He definitely is if he can play the entire Chili's discography. I think what irks people is the fact Josh isn't as forceful as a presence with his guitar playing, or in other words, he doesn't write the powerful riffs like John did which was a key key key component to them defining their sound.
  7. Craig Manning

    @FurtherFromSky Moderator

    Thanks! If you haven't heard By the Way, I'd recommend that one. That's the album where I felt they most broke the mold and just wrote great songs instead of trying to play to their image or whatever. Some really lovely ballads on that record.

    Josh is pretty great on this record, imo. I would have understood those complaints after I'm with You, but he basically sounds like Frusciante here. Not quite the same level, but good.
  8. It's funny, that's the only Chili Peppers album I've ever owned. My parents bought me the CD when it was released and I ended up trading it in after a few listens. I didn't give it much of a chance because I was convinced at the time that they weren't a cool band to be into. When I think back on that album, I remember a handful of songs that I enjoyed, and would probably appreciate much more now. I think it's time to revisit that one. Thanks for the rec!
  9. Bartek T.

    D'oh! Prestigious

    I a gree with both of you, I just don't see any reason in comparing his stuff to Frusciante, it might certainly be a different level of playing, but it's just here and now and I'll take it as a different thing. I couldn't stand a few dudes stating "the new guy doesn't have any skills to find his presence on the album", or "RHCP has no guitarist right now" ;p
  10. Ska Senanake


    Yeah those statements aren't true. The guitar definitely has a presence and is definitely a step up from i'm with you. It's just more of an atmospheric presence.
  11. jorbjorb

    7 rings

    could never get into this band haha
  12. Eric Wilson

    Trusted Prestigious

    Only listened through this a couple of times, but have enjoyed it each time.
  13. ncarrab

    Prestigious Supporter

    I'm really enjoying this record. I was very worried about this record following I'm With You, but it's blowing that record out of the water, thank god. This record brings me back to the By the Way and Stadium days, which in my opinion was the best RHCP days (with Californication thrown in there as well).
  14. TobiasSc

    Life is a gift. Remember this.

    If this is the case, I might give it a listen. Never even tried I'm With You though :P
  15. Craig Manning

    @FurtherFromSky Moderator

    Yep, Californication through Stadium was peak RHCP. BSSM is great too, but I can't listen to the whole thing.
  16. ncarrab

    Prestigious Supporter

    There's only a few songs I go back to on I'm With You; Meet Me at the Corner, Brendan's Death Song and Rain Dance Maggie. That's pretty much it.
  17. ncarrab

    Prestigious Supporter

    Californication is one of my all-time favorite albums. By the Way and Stadium are also pretty much both classic albums to me. Agree about BSSM. I'm really not into any of their other albums. I prefer their more laid back music than their 'funky style' that was on the majority of their albums.
  18. Bartek T.

    D'oh! Prestigious

    Exactly, there's presence, just within different spectrum, can't believe people don't hear some skill in that as well :))