Red Hot Chili Peppers enlist the help of Danger Mouse to shake things up in the band’s eleventh full album.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers have virtually done everything there is to do in the world of music and made an impression on even the least interested of music fans. From performing virtually naked to a Superbowl halftime performance to a discography of now 11 full albums since 1984, the Chili Peppers have become a household name and a band that EVERYONE knows of. But after 2011’s commercial disappointment I’m With You, the band make a choice to push for something different. Even Flea when on record saying that they were doing the same things they had always done. So after an unfortunate setback with Flea being injured in a snowboarding accident, the band pushed for something different and enlisted the help of Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton to bring a new pair of eyes and ears to the music writing.
Going back to Flea’s statement of the band doing the same thing, longtime fans of Red Hot Chili Peppers can be somewhat divided. One fanbase continue to hope for a more funk based revival of the 80’s and early 90’s, while the other fanbase wants the more mellow and soulful tracks that have been given through the 90’s and early 2000’s. In The Getaway, we have a new producer helping the band with a new recording style where each member played their part over the drum track individually rather than all of the group jamming together in studio for days on end. That paired with the idea of trying to do something different as opposed to the same song and dance the band has been accustomed to for many years, it could lead to endless possibilities in what we hear. It was on May 5th of this year that we were given the first listen on the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s first album since 2011 with the song Dark Necessities, that eventually became the band’s 25th top ten single on Billboard’s top alternative chart. It was something refreshing, unique, and what many people were not expecting to come from the group.
Dark Necessities is an extremely mellow song that is fine-tuned and mastered gorgeously. Flea’s bass is deep and clean while the added piano keys mesh well to balance the track. Anthony Keidis doesn’t go on a random location or name tangent and it all sounds peaceful while still having a rhythm that moves. The chorus featuring the backup vocals and hearing Keidis’ singing the title along with the guitar solo from Josh Klinghoffer put the exclamation point on the song. I was extremely excited to hear the rest of the new album after this song was released as were many listeners. As other songs like We Turn Red and the title track were then released to the public, it slowly became clear what the main feature of this album would be. The days of fast and loud funk inspired alternative rock are going to be rarely heard outside of tracks like We Turn Red and Detroit. The Getaway is an album that has a slower pace than both longtime Chili Pepper fans and new comers will expect. That is not a knock on the album’s direction or quality of the music, but as you listen from beginning to end you quickly figure out that the Chili Pepper’s latest album is a much more tranquil and mellow experience than what the band was known for decades prior.
Detroit and We Turn Red are the two tracks that have a shade of the original energetic and brash days of the band but even then the songs are still tame. Whether it is age that has finally mellowed the sock wearing dynamos or it really is the focus of the band to not get too loud or fired up, The Getaway feels much like a quiet vacation and may not be something that everyone has the urge to listen to. There are the memorable staples that are featured in the album like the occasional “Hey Oh” from Keidis in “Goodbye Angels” and the standard loving references to California, but a majority of this album is one smooth transition to another. While nothing is offensive or harsh sounding, there isn’t much that is memorable. After 54 minutes, you forget many of the songs you’ve heard and don’t have much desire to replay them.
The Getaway is ambitious and after the setbacks and changes the group made to finally create the album, there is a certain appreciation that has to be given. After listening to many tracks though and getting past a stellar track like Dark Necessities, you realize that the album isn’t something worth writing home about. While definitely not bad, it also won’t blow anyone away. Overall, Red Hot Chili Peppers deliver a tightly produced and well played Getaway that may feel a bit too long and uninteresting at points. While the high points stand out well, it may not be the fantastic return to form that many fans were hoping for. It’s an okay listening experience, but in the end it’s just okay.