7 July 2016
Red Hot Chili Peppers - The Getaway
After checking all the previous reviews on this blog, it is somewhat of a surprise to me that this is the first album from the Red Hot Chili Peppers that has been reviewed on these pages. Over the years I know that me and Jerm have had various conversations regarding the Chili Peppers and how they have changed; for the record Jerm prefers their earlier work, whilst I think they peaked around 'Blood Sugar Sex Magic' and have struggled a bit since the release of 'Californication'. I have always had a soft spot for their work, but they became more of a singles band than an act whose albums would be great from beginning to end. To that end, when I checked out their last album 'I'm with You' (the first to feature guitarist Josh Klinghoffer'), it felt like the production and songs were not quiet there. However, there has been change in the RHCP camp - firstly this album is produced by Danger Mouse, marking an end to the twenty-five year/six album partnership with Rick Rubin. Also, with relationship breakdowns and physical injury have also hampered this album and defined its direction. It is the first album by the band in a while that has made me interested from the beginning, now it is time to see if the interest is warranted......
The album starts with "The Getaway" and the guitar work on here is leaning away from the rockier side of the band and more towards to it has a soulful edge and it feels like the music to some 1970's cop drama that will undoubtedly involve a vigilante who is searching for justice. Lyrically, it sounds like someone who is trying to make amends and get come to terms with a life changing event, nothing unusual from Mr Kiedis here, yet it is not the worst things I have heard from him as well. It is a subtle, yet very effective opening to this album. Next is the first single which has been released from the album at the time of writing, "Dark Necessities". This song starts with a slow & steady build up into the song, it sounds like it might just explode into something massive and then it goes into a slow bass section from Flea, the vocals kick in and it goes in a different, but not all together unpleasant direction. There are other thing running around this song and the production job on this one by Danger Mouse is perhaps a little too dominant to the performs from the Chili's; but the song is one that is very striking and it makes a change from some of their other single choices and I cannot say I dislike the song as it is very pleasant on the ear, I'm just not over excited for the song either. "We Turn Red" is a heavier tune in comparison, but not rocking out by any stretch of the imagination. It feels like a throwback in places, with a throwback to 'Blood Sugar...' era Peppers and the music that was part of that experience. Lyrically it is still a little light in places, but you never expect anything other from these guys - it is another good song and so far I am not dislike anything that has been performed here. Next up we have the emotional heart breaker that is "The Longest Wave", this sounds like a combination of "I Could Have Lied" and "Californication" musically and lyrically as well. It is obviously that the subject matter is involving love lost and the particular chasms that come in that situation, saying goodbye to someone when neither party was expecting it can be a traumatic event for anyone. It is this side of the Chili's that I have always appreciated the most when it is used conservatively and not every second song on an album, the sensitive side that sounds as if the grief is being channelled into something new and trying to turn it into a positive; this song is one of the best I have heard from them in a long time.
"Goodbye Angels" is the fifth song on this album, it starts off very slowly and I was starting to fear that it would try to emulate the sound of "The Longest Wave" all too soon, but the band are just easing you gently into the song. It has a similar vocal pattern to "Can't Stop", as well as a similar riff if we are totally honest at the beginning. But it does change a lot during the song, moving around and not staying still for a moment. I have to say that the build to the chorus is actually better than the chorus itself, also the whole song is dominated by the breakdown towards the end of the song - it is the first time in an aeon that the band have sounded as fierce and it has sorely been needed, one of the best moments on the album from such mediocre beginnings. "Sick Love" follow on and it is the first song on the album that actually disappoints to be honest, with a sound like a holiday laid back jam that could have easily been left on the studio floor or at most released as a B-side if needed. It is the part of the band which I cannot understand when they have all that talent, they go for something so obvious and dull - next. "Go Robot" was the song which was first pencilled to be the lead single of the album, it has a groove and funky bass which is instantly infectious and it is so easy to dip into that groove. I will be honest, there might have been some embarrassing dancing around the flat as I was listening to this song, thankfully no-one was around whilst this was happening. But it is a silly tune that is different from what the modern day Chili Peppers have turned into, I think that is what I like the most about it - it is just a fun number and what more do you want sometimes? "Feasting on the Flowers" falls back into filler territory, it is a light song that floats nicely around whilst the band are playing and it is instantly forgotten once it has finished. It just cannot stick in my mind sadly, but it is not awful either - just a forgettable.
"Detroit" add a bit of rock back to the album, but it is not heavy as some of the bands other works. There is funk back in this song, it has energy within as well, yet it does not hit the accelerator pedal in the way that you might expect. It is not the best song on the album, but it gives it a bit of a kick at the right time and that is all you can of a song at certain points. "This Ticonderoga" is next and once more the band are rocking with all the energy that the band used to have many moons ago, it does have some slow breaks, but these are there to add contrast to the song and also to the album once again. The energy is refreshing and shows that there is more than just the broken heart in this album, there is more passion here as well that is itching to be released and it makes the latter half of this album very exciting indeed. It might not be the most the most memorable of song, but in the album as a whole it makes such sense. "Encore" is the eleventh song of the album and listening to this song I am wondering why it is not ending the album? One, the tile - it is an encore by default just by calling it "Encore". Two, the song itself as it is one of those strange numbers that can only work when completed by these guys actually get it right. It is one of those songs which is as light as a breeze, but it is just hits all the right spots for me. Is it the deepest thing ever? No, but who cares when it sounds this good. So the penultimate song of the album is "The Hunter" and it is the wrong song at the wrong time. It is slow, plodding and dull as the dishwater after an English Sunday Roast that was not left to steep properly - next! Ending the album is "Dreams of a Samurai" which is a huge number and everything that "The Hunter" wishes it was; it is full of drama, interesting dynamics and a fantastic performance from the band. It has a great riff and it makes such a good impression, I still think that "Encore" should have ended the album, but this is not a bad ending either.
When all is said and done with this album, this is the first RHCP record in a long time that is not full of hits; it is the first RHCP in a long time that sounds like a complete album instead, which is something that I have missed for such a long time. Individually there are a few songs which do not add up, there are a few songs that should not be on the album at all and the ending of the album should have been rearranged. But that is fantasy album making, instead we look at the album as it has been released and it is the best record they have released since "Californication". It is by no means perfect, but the new partnership with Danger Mouse has given the band a life line which they sorely needed. I am not sure if it is going to be an album of the year contender, but I find myself liking this despite myself - sometimes you like an album, just for the joy of it.
8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money time and heart
Top track - The Longest Wave
You can purchase The Getaway on Amazon here
You can visit the Red Hot Chili Peppers website here
You can follow the activities of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on Facebook here
You can stream The Getaway on Spotify here
You can stream The Getaway on Deezer here
You can stream The Getaway on Tidal here
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