Since their formation, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been all about the funk and it’s gained them some major success. But with their seventh album the band decided to broaden their sound and explore the darker recesses of life. The result was a nearly flawless record that made the band more popular than ever. It provided some of their biggest hits along with some of their most ambitious songs.
The lengthy album begins with the fun, funktastic song “Around the World.” This is classic Chili Peppers all the way. It has the awesome bass by Flea along with a simple, yet cool guitar riff playing along, of and course it has the funk vibe the band is known for, it even has Kiedis’ rap like vocals. It actually sounds like it comes from Blood Sugar Sex Magik. It seems to be about the band’s adventures while traveling on tour. My favorite part of the song is the last time Kiedis sings the chorus and sings gibbersih rather than the lyrics. Apparently, during the recording process the singer couldn’t think of any lyrics, so he just performed scat during them. When Flea’s daughter head the final result she was disappointed that the scat had been removed, so he put it in there just for her. This fact makes the song even better.
Another really great song is “Scar Tissue.” This has got to be one of my all time favorite Chili Peppers songs. There seems to be this sadness and loneliness present through the entire thing. The lyrics and the somber, soft music helps exemplify the mood. Maybe the song is so great because it’s unlike anything the Chili Peppers had done before at this point. There’s no funk influence and no references to California to be found. It’s the perfect sad, lonely, and hurt song that found the band expanding their sound.
One of the best songs on the album is the title track “Californication.” This is a song that you really have to pay attention to the lyrics to appreciate what the band is trying to say. It’s about the seedy, dark side of Hollywood and how everyone has had a dreamed of moving there to become famous at least once. It’s probably the darkest song on the album and the music fits the mood. It’s soft and mellow, but also sounds sad. It’s like the song is warning the listeners of the dangers of the city. This song also has some of the best lyrics out of all the tracks here. One of my favorites is “Pay your surgeon very well to break the spell of aging.” It has to be the perfect theme song to their hometown.
Even though there aren’t a lot of songs that stand out on their own, just about all of them are still pretty good. “Easily” has a cool guitar riff that cries out as soon as the song begins and it has a groove that you just can’t deny. “Purple Stain” is another song that sounds like a b-side from Blood Sugar Sex Magik with its funk groove and out there lyrics. Seriously, I have no idea what is going on here, especially with lyrics like “to finger paint is not a sin, I put my middle finger in/your monthly blood is what I win.” Even though it’s weird, it’s still pretty awesome. “I Like Dirt” is another funk driven song with weird references to nature and with a chorus that sings “I like dirt/I like dirt” it’s sure to be memorable.
Aside from the awesome songs, a reason why the album is great is the fact that band expands their sound here. Most of their songs are funk driven, which is how the band got known and while that sound isn’t abandoned here, it is tuned down. Some of the songs are more mellow and deal with darker subjects. The track “Porcelain” is a soft, lullaby like song that sounds like something the Smashing Pumpkins would do. The closing track “Road Trippin’” is another slow song with a sad sounding riff, but while the mood of the song is sad, the subject is actually positive. It’s about hanging out with good friends. And “Otherside” sounds like a gloomy ode to death. It’s a nice change of pace for the band who had one definitive sound.
My biggest complaint about the album is the length. It’s just too damn long. Even though there isn’t a bad song to be found here, not all of them are good enough to keep your attention for 15 tracks. It’s just way too easy to tune them out and lose interest after about the tenth track. If anything you have to be in the right mood to listen to the album all the way though without skipping a song.
Overall, the album gets 8/10. This is still one of their best albums yet. It’s different enough to show people how they have progressed in their career, but there’s enough of their original sound to not alienate their long time fans. Some of the songs are just pure fun with the point being to shake your ass, while the others explore the dark side of life and are more haunting than the band is used to. If this album isn’t a classic, it should be. It’s another reason why so many people adore The Red Hot Chili Peppers.