Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of the world’s most iconic bands, renowned for their exceptional energy and the stand alone talent of all members. For almost 30 years they have been a huge part of rock music and headlined festivals all over the world, selling over 60 million albums worldwide. Bass player Flea and lead vocalist Anthony Kiedis have been best friends since high school and this band has provided them with opportunities that couldn’t have arose in their wildest dreams. Drug addictions and frequent switches of members have provided setbacks for the group but they now seem as solid as ever. Back after a five year hiatus, the band are back with a new sound and a new lease on life but certainly not a new style. Can the band return to winning ways with this album? Or will they want to ‘Getaway’ from the music industry after a commercial flop? Let’s find out what the American rockers have in store.
The Getaway – 8/10
Such a groovy start to the album’s title track here with those infamous Flea bass chords which have created this wonderful sound of the Chili’s for decades. I also really love the electric guitar on this song, it’s so subtle but effective to the style of the song which allows Anthony Kiedis, the lead singer, to dominate with his still to this day wonderful vocals. He has a voice which not many can emulate and it suits the sound of the band perfectly. To put this in perspective, it’s a proper classic Red Hot Chili Peppers sound in all its glory, all of the old tricks which made them so successful are apparent here. As the lyrics say, it’s a “melancholy” song but not in the sense of Under The Bridge style which is very slow and like a ballad, this is a more modern twist and does still have some jig and some life to it, particularly at the end where the switch up is particularly poignant with that echoed guitar playing. The end is as sharp and sudden as it gets, the instruments fade out leaving Kiedis’ voice as a stand alone and he just completely cuts, abrupt and final. Brilliant opener, more of the same please.
Dark Necessities – 8.5/10
Lead single off the album, this is the track which truly announced the triumphant return of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and we were all hugely grateful for it, a breath of fresh air to hear some real throwback Chili’s music. The build up on this song is gradual but very strong as a pace builder and once we do eventually break into the song itself we hear a distinct bass riff from Flea which is right up there with some of his best work, absolutely incredible and it plays the role of the orchestrator for everyone else in the song. Much like Mark Knopfler did for Dire Straits with his guitar playing, Flea seems to keep the rhythm of the band all by himself with distinct instrumentation, a brilliant and unbridled talent. Anyway, back to the song itself which offers us the best of both sides of the Chili’s, in particular, the vocal range of Anthony Kiedis. In the verses we hear a stuttered vocal which turns into a slow rap at times but there’s a complete switch up in the chorus as he offers a strong demonstration of high notes and pace keeping. It’s a really cool song this one and it’s easy to see why it’s the lead single from the album, it’s definitely the one which will appeal to the most people. My one issue with it is that it does drag a tiny bit towards the end with the guitar solo going a bit longer than necessary and then the fade out at the end taking too long also. Other than that, it’s a really solid song and provided a triumphant return for the American rock veterans.
We Turn Red – 7/10
Stuttered drum beat starts this song off and kind of sets the tone, it all becomes a bit strange and all the instruments as well as the vocals sound slightly out of the ordinary but I suppose that’s part of the mould of the band over their many years in the industry. However, the transition into the chorus is magical, I love that stripped back almost acoustic sound as Kiedis sings over a very soft tune with lyricism regarding, well, I’m not 100% sure on that, it’s all quite odd but once again I’ll say it, when have the Chili’s ever been conventional in anything they do? This was the second single and with the greatest respect I’m not really sure why, it doesn’t have a single sound to it at all and there are times where it does strike me almost as a filler track but on the other hand there are moments and aspects to this song which are fantastic. It’s a real mixed bag this song, some people will love it and some will hate it, I’m drifting right in between at the moment. I don’t love it but I certainly don’t dislike it.
The Longest Wave – 7/10
You wouldn’t think John Frusciante left the band with that guitar riff at the start, it was an absolutely iconic Chili’s riff, something you’d expect to hear on a mellow hit from the ‘By The Way’ album. The song as a whole is a very calming track and the sort of song you’d sway to for the most part. The chorus does kick into a little bit of life as the instruments appear to be turned up louder and the vocals increase a bit too but it’s still in the same style of the song, just a bit louder that’s all. I feel like this song is almost a necessity for a Red Hot Chili Peppers project to maintain a certain diversity and unpredictability to their sound, there’s never been an album from them where every track has been under the same ilk and style and this song ensures that ‘The Getaway’ will be no different. It’s also just the correct length of song at three and a half minutes so just as the song ends we feel we have reached our limit with that style so it’s well worked by them there. Good song, great riff, but won’t be an absolute stand out I don’t think.
Goodbye Angels – 8/10
Another slow track at the start with acute and subtle guitar playing in the background of Kiedis’ typical vocals of solid high keyed notes and fast paced rhymes. The build up of this song is recognisable by the use of the “ayo” repetition in the verse to provide a cool and upbeat sound along with a tone setter. When it does come about, the explosion of noise from the instruments are brilliant and really change the setting of the song. What is notable from this song, however, is that the vocals don’t necessarily change a great deal with the huge change in the instrumental other than a couple of elongated high notes. Without a shadow of a doubt, the highlight of this song comes at the end with a quite brilliant bass solo followed by a shredding guitar riff and high octane drums, it’s an intense finale to this song and perhaps gives out this outburst of energy which they’ve been striving to unlock. Good song which only got better as it went on, the transformation from ballad to rock anthem was exemplary.
Sick Love – 7/10
The sort of song you’d hear on the beaches of California, it’s just so summery and so cool. It’s a song about love in as much as a Chili Peppers song can be about love as there are still blatant elements of bizarreness and the crazy attitudes of the band’s personality. That doesn’t mean this song isn’t great and doesn’t share many great similarities with other top Chili’s songs. The distinct change up between verse and chorus is something which the band have always stuck with throughout their time and once again here, it is like two different genres in one song. It’s a bit more modern with a few of the synthesisers used in the instrumental making this song sound slightly space age at times but I quite like that. It’s another steady but decent song, nothing mind blowing but just a really solid chilled out song.
Go Robot – 8/10
Flea and his bass are at the forefront once again here with that funk sound he’s made famous once again. The electronics in the background are trippy but smooth in their delivery and help make the song what it is. As for the meaning of this song, well I think it’s about being in love with a robot? But not like a metaphor of a girl who is similar to a robot in her actions, but an actual robot. It’s just so odd but I may be sounding like a broken record when I say that if anyone gets away with bizarre intentions in their lyrics it’s the Chili Peppers. The chorus is catchy and will be stuck in your head after only a couple of listens. For me this one could be a bit of a highlight of this album, a really groovy track with some great musical layers to it from start to finish. The robotic theme is seen at the end too with this re-introduction of an electronic instrumental and it sounds really good and fun. An incredibly easy listening song this one, I recommend it.
Feasting On The Flowers – 6.5/10
A bit more of an actual band sound on this song with a fairly ‘normal’ guitar riff if you will. The drum beat is simple but effective and holds the track together. The lyrics in the chorus are quite annoying, however with his grinding repetition of “I do and I don’t” it’s just too much to cope with at the best of times. The whole motive of the song is generally positive though and it drifts in and out of childhood memories and how he’s trying to hang on to those forever. I think if a true childhood memory of the band is “feasting on the flowers” then there really is no wonder they’re so strange if I’m honest. I like the instrumental and the majority of the lyrics and their delivery, I just struggle to get along with the cheerleader styled repetition in the chorus so that brings the rating down.
Detroit – 5.5/10
Sounds like a bit more of a heavier rock hit than what we’ve heard on this album at least and that’s what we get throughout the song, a really gritty track from top to bottom. I really like the echo effect on the vocals too as they add that grittier sound to the whole song. I have got a bone to pick with this song though, it’s unoriginal chorus. The lyrics in the verses are dead cool and have some uniqueness to them, but in the chorus there is a literal repetition of the same line and it just annoys me, complete lack of imagination. Also, describing yourself “like Detroit” because you’re “crazy” just doesn’t really work, like please explain to me why Detroit is crazy? Anyway this is a weak song on this track list by comparison to the others, it’s a different avenue but it’s not a very good one.
This Ticonderoga – 6.5/10
Energy, energy and more energy. Progressive instrumentals, loud vocals, high octane choruses, this song has exactly what is lacking from the previous track. We have a slight break from this noise bomb when Kiedis sings over very quaint chords with a much softer voice but that is only a brief couple of moments in this song. The lyrics are weird, like really weird but what do you expect from a song with a title like this one? Mentioning of animals is a revalue occurrence on this track, saying “all these animals want to be just like you” which could well be true but we don’t know that for certain. I like the way this song ends too with a cry of excitement and joy from Kiedis calling a halt to his band’s playing and a complete cut out before moving into the next song. It’s a fairly good track, not a great one, but still strong nonetheless.
Encore – 8/10
One of the strongest tracks on this whole project without a doubt. A dark, crisp and nostalgic song full of emotion. It contains a beautifully melodic guitar riff and a very subtle calming drum beat. I also love The Beatles’ reference at the start of the song talking about how he used to sit around and “get high” listening to them when he was younger, perhaps with band mate and long time friend Flea. The chorus is definitely one that was designed to be sung to the masses and belted out at a show and I for one love it. It’s a beautiful throwback Chili Peppers song and one which will no doubt go down a treat with huge fans of the band.
The Hunter – 6/10
Not to be confused with the high octane Slaves song which has an extremely different style to this one. This is a slow jam which again places emphasis on the guitar talents of new lead guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who in his 5 years in the band has proved a worthy replacement for the legendary John Frusciante. Anyway, the song itself is steady and takes somewhat of a tragic note with the piano keys twinning a strained vocal from Anthony Kiedis, a more sensitive side to what we have seen in recent times from the band. I really like the saxophones in the bridge part of the song too as they add a cool effect and sound to the song, they make us sound quite triumphant in a way. It’s a good song don’t get me wrong, but there are times where you could easily drift in and out of the song, it struggles to grab your attention for the full length and that’s not ideal criteria for anyone’s music.
Dreams Of A Samurai – 6.5/10
The whole album really ends on a mysteriously bleak and depressing tone with the last few songs being slow and heavily piano/high key guitars being at the forefront. This one is no different but also contains a brilliant bass riff from Flea as well as a unique and funky drum beat by Chad Smith. The typical band ethos comes into fruition in the first verse with this slow build up of funk guitar and cymbal bashing by the band behind Anthony Kiedis’ hushed tones. As it builds up into the chorus we get this unholy and heavily altered noise coming from the guitar and if I’m honest I’m not a massive fan of that. It dominated the sound of the chorus and so for me to not like it says all you need to know about how I feel as a whole. The drums are cool, however and truly demonstrate the uber talent of Chad Smith. Does remind me of Venice Queen, the final song on the By The Way album in its build up and length so perhaps that’s the direction they tried to go in here. It’s a song with huge intentions yet quite small delivery, I wasn’t a huge fan and the fact I even compared it to Venice Queen is a slight insult to one of my favourite Chili Peppers songs. Individually, the instruments sound great in the verses and are blatant examples of how amazing all the members are but I just don’t like the chorus at all, it ruins the song in all honesty. A murmured ending to the album when with a few tweaks it could’ve been iconic.
Overall – 7/10
Final verdict, don’t love it but I don’t hate it. Dark Necessities was a triumph and made me proud to be a Chili’s fan on their return and so was the title track, but the rest seem to be a bit wavering and laboured. It’s far from a bad albums but that doesn’t mean I’m going to sing its praises. There wasn’t really an awful song on the album which is a good sign but there were quite a few average ones sadly.
With all things considered, the thing I’m most grateful for with this album is the band’s return and a final chance for me to see one of my favourite ever bands live, a chance I grasped with open arms.