TO CALL Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 2011 release, I’m With You, mind blowing would be a lie. Sure, there were a few decent tracks, but on the whole, the album merely reinforced the point that the Chilis were beyond their best. So can this new album, entitled The Getaway, do anything to bring them back to form? Or maybe send a curveball our way!
Firstly, a shout out has to be given to the artwork. I mean, it’s the only reason I’d buy this album on vinyl; it’s really wonderful. Kevin Peterson’s Coalition II is both childlike and striking, and the Chilis couldn’t have picked a more fitting piece. Clearly they learnt their lesson after passing on Storm Thorgerson to do the cover for Stadium Arcadium.
But onto the music. The Getaway is (dare I say it) a pretty “grown up” album. For the band, it’s very mellow; slower, more meaningful and, at times, atmospheric. Flea’s slap-bass is limited to only a couple of tracks, and while his vocals might sound odd in a slightly more placid setting, Anthony Kiedis’ delivery is tender for the most part and works well with the music. The band even ventures down a few avenues that they’ve so far avoided on their long career, which, on the whole, pays off.
Opening track ‘The Getaway’ is incredibly tame in comparison to what we’ve come to expect, but when the shock wears off the song still holds up. The reverberated guitar and Josh Klinghoffer’s backing vocals are some nice touches; it’s safe to say that the guitarist has finally filled that gap that stood out so prominently after John Frusciante’s departure. Lead single ‘Dark Necessities‘ is one of the best tracks on the album, with a great chorus and some really nice muted bass work from Flea at the beginning. ‘Sick Love’ has a decent chorus as well, while ‘Feasting On Flowers’ has some great vocal work by Kiedis and Klinghoffer. The transition between musical phrases is also enjoyable in ‘This Ticonderoga’, even if you take into account that awful lyric about Flea.
Of course, there are one or two duds on this record. ‘Go Robot’ features some incredibly cliché instrumentation, including handclaps, awful synthesizers and just… eurgh. Otherwise, a lot of songs aren’t so much bad, as just underwhelming, such as ‘We Turn Red’. There are some lyrical points as well that could definitely do with some improvement. It’s still possible to get drunk if you take a sip every time Kiedis mentions California, and there some lines which seem reminiscent of the Chilis’ earlier work. While they could pull it off then, in this musical setting it really doesn’t work. One example being in ‘Goodbye Angels’, which, while musically is great, features those frustratingly immature ‘AY-OH AY-OH AY-OH’ vocals.
But throughout The Getaway, there’s an underlying sense that the band are looking to broaden their sound, especially on the track ‘Encore’ and closer ‘Dreams Of A Samurai’, two of the more cinematic numbers on the record. And while it doesn’t always play in their favour, it certainly brings them to new realms. In doing so, does it bring the band back to their former glory? Well, not quite, but it’s very much an album that sees them looking forward, as opposed to back at the good ol’ days. And for that I can very much respect them.
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