This album is often touted as one of the best albums of the 90’s. It may be even one of the best the Chili Peppers album ever released, but for the longest time I never understood why. It’s not that I thought the album was bad. I just thought it wasn’t as great as everyone said it was. It was so easy to tune out and the only songs that caught my interest were the singles. After actually taking the time to listen to this album for the review with no distractions, I now understand why everyone raves about it.
This album has some of the most well-known songs by the Chili Peppers including “Under the Bridge,” “Suck my Kiss,” and “Give it Away.” Without a doubt these songs are great and some of the best in the band’s catalog. But this album also has other stellar songs that deserve more attention. The opening track “Power of Equality” has a grooving bass and guitar riff that will get you dancing. It also introduces the funk feeling found on the record. The song also has a good message about how everyone needs to make peace with each others differences.
One song that takes a more serious tone is “Lovely Man.” It opens with a catchy, looping riff that’s instantly recognizable. It’s an upbeat song that’ll get you out of your seat. But while the song sounds upbeat and fun, it’s actually full of sorrow. It’s about Hillel Slovak, the original guitarist for the band. In the song, Kiedis sings about bittersweet memories, how he misses his best friend, and how they’ll be together again one day. He even lovingly refers to Slovak as Slim when he sings “I miss ya Slim/ I love you too.” It’s a very somber, yet sweet song.
Another great song is the slow track “I Could Have Lied.” This is one of the two slow songs on the record and it’s quite beautiful. It has a pretty, soothing acoustic guitar riff for most of the song, until the electric guitar comes in adding some energy to the track. What’s great about this part is that while it does catch your attention, it doesn’t take over the song. Also, Kiedis sounds vulnerable here as he softly sings the sweet lyrics. “Breaking the Girl” is another sweet sounding song. There’s even very mellow, airy sounding music as if it’s being played by a flute. This is probably one of the best tracks on the album.
What’s obvious to anyone who knows the band or anyone with ears is the album is inspired by funk music. Every song has a heavy or slinky groove to get you out of your seat. This is mostly due to the killer bass playing provided by Flea. If you don’t understand why he is considered one of the best bass players in music, you need to hear this album. You can hear the grooving and wild bass lines in every song. In most bands it’s either hard to hear the bass or it doesn’t really add anything to the song, so it’s great that the band takes advantage of Flea in the best possible way. While all the music is great, the bass really takes center stage here.
This is a pretty trippy record. Not only are the music and vocals pretty wild, the lyrics are crazy too. Even with the help of reading the lyrics, it’s difficult to understand what most of the songs are about. They are often nonsensical and feel like they’re thrown in either because they sound cool or it rhymes really well. Take a look at this line from “Funky Monks:” “No I will not misconstrue/more rockin’ more rockin’ now doobley do.” Even though the words may not make sense they are still fun.
Though the record may be easy to dance to, it actually explores a lot of dark themes. Songs will often have references to drugs, death and sex. This record was made when Kiedis felt his lowest: dealing with his heroin addiction and the death of Slovak. As a result, these dark feelings come out in the album. A lot of lyrics also feature sexual innuendos, since they were constantly on Kiedis’ mind. The song “Sir Psycho Sexy” features nothing but sex. Here you’ll find lines like “Deep inside the garden of eden/standing there with my hard on bleedin’/there’s a devil inside my dick/And some demons in my semen.” This record probably features the most sexual lyrics of any other of their releases.
Overall, the album gets 9/10. All of the songs are a hit and will make you want to dance. The music is great, the vocals are wild, and for the most part the songs sound fun though they mainly deal with dark themes. Even though there are 17 tracks on the album, it never feels like it’s going on for too long. You don’t even notice the number of songs until the album is over. Definitely one of the best and most influential albums of the 90’s.