Now 33 years deep into their career, California’s Red Hot Chili Peppers could be forgiven for taking it a little easy on ‘The Getaway’, the band’s eleventh studio album and their first since 2011’s ‘I’m With You’, after crafting a fine and consistent assortment of funk-filled hard rock for their legions of fans across their lifetime.
Although that’s not quite true, is it? The band have arguably created nothing of interest for their hardcore fan base since 2002’s classic ‘By The Way’, which strengthened their foothold in the mainstream after previous record ‘Californication’ was aired all over MTV in the late nineties. Only two records in the 14 years since ‘By The Way’ was released, with this latest effort being number three, RHCP have managed to ride the coattails of their former glories considerably well.
And so, we arrive at album number eleven, and a promising thought that this might be the album to catapult the band back into the endearing faces of those who worshipped their earlier material. Then the opening title track kicks in, displaying a flaccid ambient-style radio rock song with semi-acoustic melodies veering swiftly into dance music territory.
What follows is a consistent (at least they’ve been consistently average over the last 14 years) lack of rock music in their sound, digressing from flourishes of bass guitar and rhythmic thumping of the drums to weak, atmospheric melodies that have no bite to them and leaves the listener craving angst and attitude.
That aforementioned rhythm section combines well on lead single ‘Dark Necessities’ and showcases a bit more of an upbeat nature to the track, but is soon lost to a lack of cohesion including a piano interlude which boggles the mind. Speaking of pianos, Elton John (yes, tHE purple-spec wearing, near-septuagenarian Rocket Man) features on ‘Sick Love’ halfway through the record. Say no more.
‘The Longest Wave’ sounds like The Verve‘s ‘Lucky Man’ (trust me), and ‘Go Robot’ rolls along at a methodical pace factoring in random hand claps, a sprinkling of electronica, and Jamiroquai-infused disco pop. So far, so bland.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. ‘Goodbye Angels’ appears to be a throwback to their early noughties sound with a bouncy lyrical style and atmospheric chorus, while ‘Detroit’ throws in a tremendous bass slap throughout, which will invariably make the listener nod their head in unison.
Unfortunately, that’s about it. The split from long-time producer Rick Rubin (he’d been at the helm since 1989) had hinted at somewhat of a revival following the aforementioned long-term slump, but ultimately the disappointment is clear for all to hear. They’ve always had a laid-back style to their song structures, but ‘The Getaway’ is near horizontal. Sad times for Kiedis and co. then; the life expectancy of Red Hot Chili Peppers surely hangs in the balance after this release.
Written by Neil Criddle (@DJCriddz)