Release Date: Jun 17, 2016
Record label: Atlantic
The Getaway is Red Hot Chili Peppers’ eleventh studio album, their first since I’m With You five years ago. It’s another substantial offering from a band who don’t short-change either at gigs or on albums, with 13 tracks and lasting almost 55 minutes. Since moving away from the alt-funk/rap/metal rock of their ’80s output, they have solidified into a more mainstream, stadium-rock outfit.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers' 11th studio album, 2016's The Getaway, is a sophisticated work of dark-hued maturity that finds the long-running California outfit expanding their sound into nuanced, '70s-style orchestral soul and funky psychedelia. The album follows the equally adventurous I'm with You (2011) and once again showcases guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who replaced John Frusciante in 2009. A major difference, however, between I'm with You and The Getaway was the band's choice to work with producer/instrumentalist Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse).
Eleventh studio album – the first not produced by Rick Rubin since 1989 – is a fickle affair. Produced by Danger Mouse, who first came to prominence mashing up Jay Z and The Beatles on The Grey Album, The Getaway is lyrically inspired by that rock staple: a relationship gone bad. Yet it also feels like a meditation of the passing of time, the accruing of history.
Though now a more polarizing band than at any other time in their history (cue "that" Nick Cave quote getting pulled out at any available opportunity by haters), there's clearly still much love in the world for Red Hot Chili Peppers. Which made it all the more unfortunate when 2011's I'm With You was such a meek, over-diluted pastiche of the blend of funk, dirt, and sex that made them such a globe-spanning act in the '90s and '00s. It was the sound of a band growing up, sure.
Like being an NFL linebacker, being a Red Hot Chili Pepper is a challenging gig to age gracefully in; literally or metaphorically, tube socks on your johnson ain't a good look at 50. To their credit, the Peppers' 11th LP is a bold attempt to jibe their past party-dog selves with their present-day artistic ambitions – not always a perfect fit but a compelling one. With production by Danger Mouse, and Radiohead sixth man Nigel Godrich on the mix, the sound is top-shelf modern-rock splendor: shimmering guitar fractals, flashing string arrangements, artisanal rhythmic flourishes.
The big story surrounding The Getaway is that, 25 years since the Red Hot Chili Peppers achieved their artistic and commercial breakthrough with studio guru Rick Rubin, they've finally opted to work with a new producer. Rubin had become a bit like a fifth Chili Pepper — akin to George Martin's relationship with the Beatles or Nigel Godrich's with Radiohead — so this is a fairly drastic move for a band that has spent the past decade treading water, musically speaking. This time, the combo worked with Danger Mouse, which makes sense given his experience in helping rock musicians embrace modern sounds (see the Black Keys, or Broken Bells co-founded James Mercer).
Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes of a recently kicked bowl of California’s finest medicinal-grade greenery, the Red Hot Chili Peppers decided that 2016 was a time for rebirth. Thirty-three years, three drummers, seven guitarists, and a whole lot of personal and professional struggles removed from their formation as a precocious group of fun(k)-loving kids in, yes, the City of Angels, they decided to stretch the seams of the winning form and rip it all up on The Getaway, their 11th studio album. For starters, that meant tossing Rick Rubin, who produced every one of the band’s previous six albums.
Get ready for more funky bass. When you’re 11 albums deep in the game and your sound is so engrained into the global cultural psyche (countless hits and mega sales will do that), it must be a bitch starting out afresh.To combat this, Red Hot Chili Peppers have enlisted the production nous of Danger Mouse for ‘The Getaway’, their first album without Rick Rubin in 25 (!) years.But it doesn’t make much difference – they still sound exactly the same. It’s easy to take the piss – a California shoutout on the first track? Really lads? – but this is another album full of undeniable, super chilled, funk-fuelled and slick stuff.
The funk-rock veterans’ return got off to a stuttering start: sessions were put on hold following bassist Flea’s snowboarding injury, Anthony Kiedis was hospitalised with intestinal flu, and around 30 songs were scrapped before this album was completed. The stormy, sullen first single Dark Necessities is far from shambolic, however. With production from Danger Mouse, who takes over Rick Rubin’s 25-year stint with the group, RHCP’s sound has become surprisingly streamlined.
When comedian Jon Daly’s Red Hot Chili Peppers parody started circulating, many fans (and haters) mistook it for the real deal. At first, that sounds like a putdown to RHCP, a confirmation that their style is all too easily imitated: the overly slapped bass, the freewheeling guitar harmonics, the sex-freak rip-rap-rippity-doing lyrics. But the fact that they’ve even created a style so ripe for parody is a compliment in itself.
Anthony Kiedis has had enough of your jokes, jeers, and general bullshit–and can you blame him? 30-odd years after his band formed, the Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman can’t catch a break. While we’re all sitting on our asses, cracking jokes about his hospitalization and his best friend’s rendition of the National Anthem, he and his pals are out there hustling—spreading love and #posivibes to stadiums worldwide, rescuing babies while doing Carpool karaoke with his bandmates, and getting inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Music isn’t a game to him–neither are carefully-placed tube socks.
It’s hard to credit that Red Hot Chili Peppers have around for over 30 years, but their self-titled debut album did indeed hit shelves in 1984. They’re career arc is a particularly fascinating one. As they developed in the ‘80s, with each successive album their sound became tighter, their songwriting skills better, and Anthony Kiedis became a more accomplished frontman and vocalist (Flea has been a bad mofo on the bass since the beginning).
Iknow 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.
Is there a more ‘Red Hot Chili Peppers’ opening to an album than a looped, crap attempt at beat boxing? ‘The Getaway’ - that is, both album and title-track – make their entrance with the sort of ‘chk-tiss’ you hear echoing around primary school playgrounds year-in, year-out. It makes it all the more embarrassing when Anthony Kiedis demands, “Take me to the future”. If there’s a band more rearward-facing than this lot, we’ll eat our sweaty cock-socks.
Eleven albums in, and LA’s grizzled funk-rock reprobates are tinkering with the formula. The Getaway is the Chili Peppers’ second album with newish guitarist Josh Klinghoffer and their first since 1989 without producer Rick Rubin: Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton is behind the faders, introducing Beatley nuances on Feasting on the Flowers and a little unexpected disco sparkle on Go Robot; Nigel Godrich mixes – a hook-up born of bassist Flea’s sojourn in Atoms for Peace. Fans will probably find The Getaway an improvement on 2011’s I’m With You, citing tunes such as Detroit.
“The Getaway” (Warner Bros.) Flea, the slap-happy bassist in the Red Hot Chili Peppers, recently stirred up a small tempest: “A lot of times, especially recently, I look at rock music as kind of a dead form in a lot of ways.” He was talking with Mike McCready of Pearl Jam on SiriusXM, and quickly hedged: “Nothing to take against us or you guys, because you know, we’re obviously — I believe that we’re relevant bands that come with” a real energy. (He used profanity there.) Flea was talking about punk values, basically: insurgency, impertinence, whatever is the opposite of groomed and packaged. Thirty years ago, the Red Hot Chili Peppers formed an embodiment of that riotous ideal.
As Red Hot Chili Peppers prepared to release their 10th album five years ago, they seemed like a band reborn. With recharged batteries from a two-year break and touring guitarist Josh Klinghoffer officially replacing John Frusciante, the future looked peachy. Ultimately, ‘I’m With You’ disappointed, with Klinghoffer only having had a year to get up to speed, and fans hoped for a better follow-up.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ sound has always added different touches and flavors as their lineup changed—Hillel Slovak provided more pure funk; John Frusciante gave the band a melodic edge; Dave Navarro a heavier, almost psychedelic side—but this group, the one with former Gnarls Barkley, Beck, and Christina Aguilera guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, is the first lineup aside from the one with Frusciante to have made two albums together (three if you include the dreadful B-side collection I’m Beside You). After I’m With You proved that they’re still capable of making four-chord, half-gibberish choruses, the Chili Peppers did something they haven’t done since 1989’s Mother’s Milk: use a producer other than Rick Rubin. Behind the boards this time was Brian Burton, better known as Danger Mouse.