Words By: Gerrod Harris
Release Date: June 17th, 2016 via Warner Bros. Records
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are back with their follow up to 2011’s transitional record, I’m With You, an album which saw the departure of long time guitarist John Frusciante and welcomed Josh Klinghoffer to the fold. Their latest release, The Getaway, is a bit of a milestone in that it is ushering in a new era and dimension to the band’s already highly diverse catalogue. While this album still features Klinghoffer on guitar, it is the first Chili Peppers’ record since 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik not to include legendary producer Rick Rubin, but rather was produced by Danger Mouse, who has worked with the likes of Beck, The Black Keys, and Gnarls Barkley.
Many have immediately commented on how uncharacteristic The Getaway sounds, noticing how it seems to stray away from their alternative roots. While The Getaway is a very unique album among their other works, it shares much with the preceding I’m With You and 2002’s By The Way in that it frequently offers a mellower and toned down funk rock style with pop and soft rock influences. This, more often than not, is a less overt observation, but rather it is demonstrated in the way they seamlessly blend a number of subtler elements together. Take the lead single, “Dark Necessities”, as a prime example: while Klinghoffer’s guitar features a more ambient tone and minimalist role for much of the song, it is matched with a contrastingly driven and funky groove- one which is unmistakably that of the Chili Peppers- from drummer Chad Smith and bassist Flea. In other cases, however, the shift from soft to explosive is very much the spotlight of the song. This is very much the case of “Goodbye Angels”, a song which is predominantly a ballad when out of nowhere Flea bursts out an aggressive slapped bass line where Klinghoffer lets out a distorted and intense guitar solo to close the track.
Despite the fact that The Getaway seems to place an emphasis on the Chili Peppers’ ability to perform mature pop fueled funk, this is very much a record that can rock. “Detroit” is an obvious highlight in this regard due to its slinky, crunching riff and driving pulse. Much like the aforementioned conclusion of “Goodbye Angels”, “This Ticonderoga” features verse filled with thick distorted chords, vicious lead lines, and thrashing drums, but transitions to a slower chorus with a softly played piano and a melodic guitar, a switch which may appear jarring at first but upon expecting it, it flows seamlessly. Even the closing track, the ballad like “Dreams Of A Samurai” displays a heavy, dissonant, and darker chorus to the piano led introduction and soft drum ‘n’ bass groove of the verse.
Unlike I’m With You, Klinghoffer makes his presence on the record very much known, rather than allowing for the guitar to take a backseat. Both “Sick Love”- which features Elton John on the keys- and “Feasting On The Flowers” feature some of his smoothest and most tasteful guitar work across an album rich with slick riffs, funky rhythms, and ambient textures. Vocalist Anthony Kiedis too sounds more comfortable and smooth belting out far more melodic and adventurous vocal lines than he ever has, and as always has delivered an album overflowing of clever lyrics; some fun and quirky, others sexy and charming, and many introspective and deep. In many ways, I’m With You was merely a transition period which has allowed for the band to evolve towards The Getaway.
In many ways, The Getaway is one of the most versatile records from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It demonstrates in many ways the collision of a sophisticated pop style with modern rock, while still embracing a subtler variation on their traditional and renowned alternative funk rock sound. As a band, they have very rarely remained along one sonic wave, often evolving between records and The Getaway is no different. This is certainly an album which has solidified Klinghoffer as a fitting replacement for Frusciante, bringing in a style that is both respectful of the groups roots as it is a progressive force. Danger Mouse too, while at first I was skeptical of a Chili Peppers’ record without Rubin, forced the band to explore new territory through new means and methods of song writing. The result is an album that touches upon many different stylistic traits but remains funky as all hell in every way. Very much, this is a collection of songs which will appeal to long-time fans as well as newer listeners, and will leave their audiences very much excited to hear their new material in a live setting. Very few artists could remain relevant since their inception over thirty years ago, and it is through such tonal shifts of the likes of this which have allowed for the Red Hot Chili Peppers to grow to become and remain as one of today’s biggest rock bands across the globe. The Getaway is an incredible album, that is as traditional and unmistakeably that of the Chili Peppers as it is progressive in its genre bending nature, and ultimately can stand among the bands very best works.
1: The Getaway
2: Dark Necessities
3: We Turn Red
4: The Longest Wave
5: Goodbye Angels
6: Sick Love
7: Go Robot
8: Feasting On The Flowers
10: The Ticonderoga
12: The Hunger
13: Dream Of A Samurai