After a five year absence from the music scene, The Red Hot Chili Peppers are back with the follow up to their 2006 album Stadium Arcadium. After such a long absence and with the second departure of guitarist John Frusciante, the odds were stacked against them. The band have been industry for almost three decades, and have managed to stay commercially successful and relevant for at least twenty of those years, not many bands are able to boast such an accomplishment, but with the departure of one of their main creative forces, it was hard to say if they would be able to recover. The last time John left, the bands career took a nose dive due to a series of bad decisions. Thankfully this time they managed to pull it together with the help of Josh Klinghoffer.
My first impression of the album was that it’s certainly more mature than their previous albums, yet it’s still very distinctively them. They hit on many different musical styles throughout the album, from countrified ballads to 70’s disco, they really made an effort to branch out from their comfort zone with this one. Anthony’s lyrics are as clever and quirky than ever, and his rapped and clean vocals show neither regress nor improvement. Album opener Monarchy of roses gets into the swing of things straight away and sets the tone for the rest of the album. It catchy, funky and has a great hook. It’s probably my favourite song from the album, it catches you straight away and makes you actually want to listen to the rest of the album.
The first half of the album gives the impression that they are determined to prove to the world that they are the same old Chili Peppers. Tracks like Look around and Ethiopia remind us why we fell in love with them in the first place, pumping bass from Flea and soaring vocals from Kiedis, its classic Chili’s all the way. Brendan’s death song a sad yet beautiful song pays tribute to the bands friend Brendan Mullen, it definitely deserved a place on the album. It’s not until a few songs in that they let their new influences and ideas loose. Flea’s newfound passion in world music and piano stretches out in new and exciting ways and helps them create a fresh new sound while remaining true to their original sound. Happiness loves company is a prime example. Even you Brutus shows the band fearlessly exploring new territory with great results, I can see this becoming a fan favourite.
Though I’m with you certainly won’t come near the success of previous albums such as Blood Sugar Sex Magik or Californication it’s certainly a great effort especially considering the circumstances. Fans should be encouraged by the bands willingness to evolve, adapt and create something fresh yet familiar.