Red Hot Chili Peppers The Getaway

[Warner Bros.; 2016]

Rating: 2/5

Styles: funk pop, waiting for take-out jazz fusion, ethereal sweat stain, feeling boring for liking new Radiohead albums
Others: !!!, TV on The Radio, The Shitty Beatles, Coldplay

I know better now, but when I was a teenager, Blood, Sugar, Sex & Magic was on heavy rotation, and it was dumb and fun and horny as I was. The “yeah, I fuck, it ain’t no thing” machismo on the dirty novelty song “Sir Psycho Sexy” was the most disconcerting bit of prurient ephemera I’d experienced since that robot rape art on the Appetite For Destruction sleeve. It was base and for shock and I appreciated that, even if it wasn’t really me exactly. So even though all these years later that mustache might make me wanna chop off The Kied’s head with a Queen record and I won’t soon forget the words “sexy sandwich,” I musn’t let these things derail this review. You’re likely here to feed your Pepperhead, not squish your toes in some “I’m so over this now” snark loam. That would be a waste of time.

Much like Mr. Bungle before them, yacht-rock chintz seems to have caught The Chili Peppers imagination as they’ve aged. Nite Jewel keyboard hooks abound, especially on “Go Robot,” which I confess is queasier than a grope on a Gravitron (“I wanna thank you and spank you on your silver skin, robots don’t care where I’ve been”), but put some splashing, sizzling grill and babbling conversation and it’ll help a lot of Americans relax this summer. A tour sponsored by Solo cups could be key (I know I don’t have to explain to the boys what to stuff in those complementary cups!). But then I’m thinking like an east-coaster. This is desert swank, its hair-shortened-Bon-Jovi-in-a-palm-tree affability playing on your chakras in a way that is pure pastel pacification (with a hearty pinch of mid-life hangover, saggy tattoo sulking).

Flea’s time with Thom Yorke in Atoms for Peace seems to have spurred a more somber, dark lounge approach, particularly on “The Hunter.” “Time just gets its way, strawberries left to decay,” Kiedis sings, and one can picture him rocking in a tortured position next to Flea at the piano, with pointy shadows shrinking and expanding around them. The haunted autumnal vibes continue on epic closer “The Dreams of a Samurai.” Make that a “Metamorphosis Samurai.” A Spaghetti Western character of sorts, the Metamorphosis Samurai finds a young girl on a tour bus. Thinking the “pretty gift” will make him feel less alone, he instead finds himself a kitchen, naked and robbed of memory. “I lost myself out on the range,” which suggests the protagonist is metamorphosing out of samurai-hood and into madness. What the tabloids won’t tell you, the Metamorphosis Samurai fills in: “Don’t ask me, I’ve gone insane.” The fire & brimstone harmonies by the vocal choir (Beverley Chitwood, Alexx Daye, David Loucks, Kennya Ramsey, Matthew Selby, SJ Selby, Loren Smith, and Gregory Whipple) at the end of the track are decidedly sick. Sick as the hellfire that will surely consume the Metamorphosis Samurai when the fog clears and his song is done.

Speaking of sick as hell, Danger Mouse does wondrous things with his production work. Although The Peps have largely shed their P-Funk overtones in favor of (aggravatingly infectious) emo crooning, Burton pays homage to their roots in tasteful ways that somehow never seem out of place on the vape pyramid terrace. Co-opted as they may be, the best tracks tend to be the ones that aren’t attempting to mine old hooks for new hits. A big contender for one has got to be the Smashmouth sunbleach of “Sick Love,” which apes the verse melody of “Bennie and The Jets” (apparently, that’s Elton John, faintly accompanying on the keys). It’s a hit that’ll cause garden-variety smells to feel like aneurysm precursors, but a hit nonetheless. I think Hesh would say so, anyway.

But every song on here has the potential to make you move mindlessly. Despite yourself, or in tribute to someone else. Sometimes you’re happy enough. You can glimpse the clear, crisp air above the thicket of your opinions and perceptions. You can almost picture not giving a damn about music or film or the internet or the Golden Age of TV ever again, and it seems like an impossibility of resolution and calm. When you drop out of it, you’re always tapping your stupid toes to this. We don’t just gotta live together, we gotta groooooove together. Make wild-arm gesticulations together. Look at ourselves and laugh in shock together. Getaway together. Come back together. There’s a lot to share besides static, especially when the finer things keep shining through with such reliable frequency.

Links: Red Hot Chili Peppers - Warner Bros.

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