Release Year: 2016
Often times when a band starts hitting double digits with their albums, the music is stale, tolerable at best. It sounds like they’re going through the motions and their best work is behind them. Luckily, this isn’t the case with the Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ eleventh album The Getaway. Longtime fans will be pleased to hear a return to the funk/rock infused sound that infected them over 30 years ago. But they don’t rehash the same old tricks as they explore different sonic avenues. Not every result is perfect, but it at least makes for a satisfying record.
Whereas I’m With You was largely forgettable, The Getaway sticks with you after the album is finished. It has some of the Chili Peppers’ strongest material in years and part of it has to with them returning to their funky roots. The opening title track is one of the strongest on the album. It seamlessly blends their early funk sound with their pop vibe for a catchy track. The hook is memorable, Flea is killing it with the understated bass groove, and the song is irresistibly upbeat. It’s in line with their hit singles and will soon become a classic. Lead single “Dark Necessities” starts off right with a downright dirty funky bass giving way to the rest of the slick music. As the title suggests, it explores the band’s dark side both in tone and in lyrics – it’s about embracing the darkness that lies within us and using it for creativity.
Though the band gets back to their roots, the overall vibe is different. When you put on a Chili Peppers album it’s a non-stop party, with a few slow tunes to give listeners a break. Things are reversed here with more mid-tempo, slow songs outweighing the energetic ones. This time, the vibe is mellow and relaxing. This is best heard on “The Longest Wave” and “Goodbye Angels.” Though it sounds nothing like the iconic song, the former one has a gentle opening riff reminiscent of “Under the Bridge.” Instead of the funky vibe, the mood is dreamy making for a soothing sound. The band never shy away from slow songs, yet this is one of their most relaxing. “Goodbye Angels” is another slow one that doesn’t grab your attention until the bridge where the music explodes with tension. It’s not a bad song but doesn’t really stand out.
The Chili Peppers turn things up with the infectious “Sick Love.” This is one of the most satisfying songs on the album. It mixes funk with a sleepy groove making you think of sitting on the beach sipping drinks. The hook is made for singing along with your buddies drinks in hand. It’s another love song to California that’ll make you want to move to the sunny state. The song represents everything summer is about and is the best on the album. “Go Robot” is another stand out track that’s a throwback to the 70’s with its funky, disco vibe. There’s even a hint of the 80’s with a splash of New Wave keys. The bouncy nature will put you in a good mood and make you break out the disco ball. It’s an upbeat, fun song that gets you shaking and grooving.
Another change on this album are the various styles found on the different songs. Early Red Hot Chili Peppers material geared towards the psychedelic and they return to that on “Feasting on Flowers.” With a riff better suited for Queens of the Stone Age, it has a sinister riff and changes gears mid-song. But aside from the guitars and some of the spacey music, it’s one of the more forgettable songs on the album. “This Ticonderoga” has a vintage, psychedelic vibe that shakes up the album’s sound. It switches between frantic fuzzy guitars and a dripping slinky groove creeping along the song. Kiedis is more playful with his vocals emphasizing and elongating his voice in certain places. With the constant sonic changes and the odd, playful vibe it’s one of the surprisingly satisfying songs on the album.
For the last few songs, the band slows things down with “The Hunter” and “Encore.” Since they’re so mellow and somber, it takes a while to get into them. The latter feels like the perfect song for night cruising while “The Hunter” has a downtrodden, depressing mood as if Kiedis is drowning his sorrows in the bottom of a bottle. The closing track “Dreams of a Samurai” is one you wouldn’t expect to like. It begins with a somber piano riff and haunting vocals while Kiedis croons about his failed relationship with Helena Vestergaard. Midway through things get trippy when guitars wail like they’re on fire. It switches between these two styles making for an unexpected, chilling track. Something about lyrics, vocals, and hectic music is kind of unnerving, but it’s a surprising way to close the album.
So was the album worth the wait? Though it’s not as heavy hitting, bombastic, or high adrenaline as their past records, it’s a surprising comeback for the Chili Peppers. There are stand out tracks that fit perfectly with their older catalog, while others find the band exploring different sounds. The most surprising thing about the release is how mellow the overall vibe is. Even Kiedis is calm as he sings, doing away with his iconic rapping style. Some songs are forgettable or too slow, but the album as a whole is oddly satisfying. The only disappointment is it doesn’t get you energized and pumped like their past releases. Still, it’s another solid notch that shows The Red Hot Chili Peppers won’t be retiring anytime soon.