“The Getaway” Review
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are back after five years, sounding like before, but not quite feeling like it.
Die hard Red Hot Chili Peppers fans have been unsure of the band’s future since “I’m with You” released in 2011. With guitarist John Frusciante departing from the band in 2006, fans were naturally curious about whether the band was going to continue making music. “I’m with You” ended up being a stark departure from their usual high-energy funk-rock roots, and fans were left scratching their heads.
In 2014, the band announced that they would be returning to the studio to record their 11th studio album, which was delayed due to bass player Flea breaking his arm in a skiing accident and producer Danger Mouse telling them to rewrite the album in an attempt to take more risks. These delays caused long time fans to be on the edge of their seats until the gratifying release of “The Getaway” on June 17.
“The Getaway” is no epiphany or magnum opus, but it is streamlined funk-rock, which is more than a lot of fans thought about “I’m with You.” You can hear influences from most of the Chili Peppers’ past work, with new songs like “Detroit” which resembles “Can’t Stop,” “Goodbye Angels” somewhat resembling “Dani California” and the new song “Encore” which is similar to “Snow (Hey-Oh)” from “Stadium Arcadium.” But on some level, something is unsettling about this new work.
Fans who didn’t love the way “I’m with You” sounded could still openly admit that it carried the same emotional weight as most of Red Hot Chili Peppers’ earlier discography, most notably on the song “Brendan’s Death Song,” but “The Getaway” can’t carry itself the same way. It sounds like the Chili Peppers, but deep down it doesn’t feel like it.
The biggest problem with this album is that there are no songs that feel as monumental as “Californication,” “Under the Bridge” or “Scar Tissue.” The album doesn’t have any songs where you can really empathize with Anthony Kiedis while you listen to the words he sings. It’s difficult to call a release from a Rock-n-Roll Hall of Famer bad, but “The Getaway” is forgettable, which for any band like Red Hot Chili Peppers is arguably worse.
When I saw Red Hot Chili Peppers live back in 2012, they played their greatest hits with a little bit of “I’m with You” sprinkled in, and it made a cohesive setlist. I can’t see them making a setlist nearly as cohesive when they have to add songs from “The Getaway,” excluding maybe the title track and “Dark Necessities,” (the latter of which has a really killer bass line). However, this was probably the same thing fans were saying five years ago, and you can really never know until you see it.
At the very least, all fans can rejoice that the band itself can be thought of as more of a unit rather than the band that replaced their guitarist for the eight time and is trying to get a kid to fill a grown man’s shoes. And it’s difficult to dread the idea of a new Red Hot Chili Peppers tour in the U.S.
“The Getaway” isn’t bad. The album remains strong all the way through, and with Danger Mouse at the helm of production, it will naturally satisfy anyone wildly anticipating the release. As a bonus, Elton John fans are gracefully rewarded with his piano track on “Sick Love.” However, this album’s major flaw is that it isn’t anything special. It’s very text book, and it doesn’t really take any risks, despite what Danger Mouse wants you to believe.
This isn’t an album where I feel like I have to listen to it eighty times to catch all the nuances. It feels all there right in front of me. In given time “The Getaway” will grow on me more, but even now I could easily recommend it to anyone interested and especially to anyone eagerly anticipating its release.