The Red Hot Chile Peppers are back with their eleventh studio album The Getaway. Their first album produced without Rick Rubin since Mothers’ Milk (1989), the record is void of the quintessential funk-punk flair that earned the Chile Peppers notoriety (and subjected them to parody). Instead Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton produced and co-wrote five of its’ tracks, with longtime Radiohead collaborator Nigel Godrich handling the mixing. And yet with two music power houses engineering the Chile Peppers musical reinvention, the project seems to fall short.
The first single, the ever-present “Dark Necessities,” is the perfect example of the inadequate nature of The Getaway. Trading in their characteristic slap-bass lines for listless melodies, the Chile Peppers’ attempt to ditch their perpetual Lost Boy reputations but fall short; or rather Kiedis’s voice does, unable to match with the brooding, confrontational lyrics.
The best songs on The Getaway are actually the ones that sound the least like the Red Hot Chile Peppers, such as “Sick Love.” Featuring the legendary Elton John on the keys, the track is a breathe of fresh air amongst the rest of the fumes. Anthony Kiedis croons over a melody that sounds like a day dream of John’s 1973 hit “Bennie and the Jets”, singing “Vanity is blasted but it’s rarely fair/I could smell the Prozac in your pretty hair/Got a lot of friends, but is anyone there.” Potentially the most surprising track in subject matter and in sound is the second single off the album, is “Go Robot.” Kiedis voice glides over punky space mix of synth and drums he sings on the topic of sex with robots saying, “You’ve got to choose it to use it so let me plug it in/Robots are my next of kin.”
The Getaway is a two star album. The more one listens to it, the more the one longs for the funk-punk filled days of Freaky Styley and Blood Sugar Sex Magik. With all the fuss over the “return of the nineties”, it’s a shame Anthony Kiedis and Co. didn’t seem to get the memo to take it back to their glory days.