Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers Reinvent Themselves On ‘The Getaway’

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First American review

It’s been a long wait, but the Red Hot Chili Peppers are finally back with their first album in five years, The Getaway. The album is the band’s second with guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, and first with Brian ‘Danger Mouse’ Burton producing.

“The Getaway,” “Dark Necessities,” and “We Turn Red” have been released in the last month to promote the album, which is set for release on June 17th through Warner Brother Records.

Track by Track Breakdown/Lyrical Analysis

1. The Getaway

Title track “The Getaway” is a good indicator of the album’s experimental sound. Kiedis’ melodies and lyrics are familiar, but the arrangements and instrumental textures push the Red Hot Chili Peppers into uncharted territory. The harmonies on “The Getaway” at a highlight. John Frusciante’s harmonies were an integral part of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ success in the 90’s and 2000’s, and Anna Waronker’s backing vocals here add a new vocal element to the band.

2. Dark Necessities

The Getaway‘s lead single has really grown on me since its release. I was initially disappointed with it, hoping for a rocking hit lead single like on some of the band’s past albums, but the chorus is infectious, and Flea’s bass riff carries the verses and adds a funk flavor to an Adult Contemporary leaning song.

3. We Turn Red

“We Turn Red” is a standout track for Chad Smith, whose thunderous drums dominate the verses before the melodic chorus. The musicianship is strong on this track, but the arrangement feels disjointed at times.

4. The Longest Wave

While the Chili Peppers are known as a California band, “The Longest Wave” feels like it could have been written on Hawaiian beach. Kiedis has a beautiful Beatlesque melody here, seemingly contemplating if his relationship with a younger woman is meant to last.

Maybe you’re my last love
Maybe you’re my first
Just another way to play inside the universe
Now I know why we came

Sterile as the barrel
Of an old 12 gage
Under my skin
And half my age
Hotter than the wax
On a saxifrage
The longest wave
Waiting on the wind
To turn my page

This is one of Kiedis’ most inspired performances on the album, with an instantly memorable chorus and consistent lyrics. It is definitely one of the album’s highlights, Flea and Klinghoffer’s interplay is among their best since he has joined the band.

5. Goodbye Angels

“Goodbye Angels” is another song about Anthony Kiedis’ love life, with similar mellow instrumentation carrying over from “The Longest Wave” to open the song, before kicking into a heavier chorus. Kiedis expands on the themes of age difference affecting his relationship, with the lyrics getting darker.

Favor Some
Way too young
Slave to none
Way too young

Say goodbye my love
I can see it in your soul
Say goodbye my love
Thought that I could make you whole
Let your lover sail
Death was made to fail

Near the end of the song Flea has a short bass solo leading into a blistering Josh Klinghoffer guitar solo. This track isn’t quite as memorable as “The Longest Wave.”

6. Sick Love

“Sick Love” features Elton John on piano, and he fits in seamlessly. The chorus is one of the catchiest on the album, it has a nostalgic feel that is somewhat reminiscent of 90’s R&B. David Bowie’s influence can also be heard throughout the song.

Rivers get connected so much stronger than expected well
Sick love comes to wash us away
Prisons of perspective
How your vision gets corrected and
Sick love is my modern cliche

“Sick Love” is one of the standout tracks on The Getaway where the experimentation really pays off.

7. Go Robot

“Go Robot” is driven by the rhythm section of Flea and Chad Smith, with melodic synth in the verses, and fuzzier synth in the chorus. Danger Mouse’s influence is evident here on this dancey discoesque track. Anthony Kiedis mentions Alice Cooper in the song’s lyrics.

I want to thank you and spank you upon your silver skin
Robots don’t care where I’ve been
You’ve got to choose it to use it, so let me plug it in
Robots are my next of kin

Sometimes I feel like I’m a sentimental trooper
She cried so hard, you know she looked like Alice Cooper

“Go Robot” is definitely the Chili Peppers trying something different, and while the song hasn’t yet grabbed me, it should appeal to fans of the band’s dancier material.

8. Feasting On The Flowers

“Feasting On The Flowers” is another R&B flavored song, especially the chorus.

Everything they said about everything
Was a coming undone it’s a life supreme
I do and I don’t, well I do and I don’t, Oh yeah

Feasting on the flowers so fast and young
It’s a light so bright that I bite my tongue
I do and I don’t, well I do and I don’t, Oh yeah
The next dimension, show me in

9. Detroit

“Detroit” changes the pace from the previous tracks, both lyrically and musically. It is more of a straight ahead mid-tempo rocker, reminiscent of Soundgarden and the Strokes. Kiedis sings with distorted vocals about the city of Detroit, with shout outs to the Stooges, J Dilla, Henry Ford, and Funkadelic.

The Stooges and J Dilla, yeah
They tore this town apart
Put me back together, well
I guess that’s quite an art

Henry won the war you see
but not with pen or sword
He did it with the little thing I think it’s called a Ford

“Detroit” will likely be a live favorite from the album, especially since it is a more straight ahead rock song than many other tracks.

10. This Ticonderoga

“The Ticonderoga” is a distorted rocker, and it’s probably the most uptempo song on The Getaway. Lyrically is goes back to the major theme of lost love on the album, and having to deal with aging, especially in the context of being in a relationship with a younger woman.

Yes I told her that
I’m the older cat
Can I scratch your back all day
I would not have it any other way

Means so much to me
Can you see the we
What are we ever gonna do when all I want to be is next to you

11. Encore

“Encore” is a nostalgic ballad, with Anthony Kiedis referencing The Beatles in the lyrics.

Listen to the Beatles and the sound of laughing Ed McMahon, we got high
Educated by a world so full of self and lost in space, too much pride
Cosmonauts and dirty thoughts are juggling the juggernaut, Soviet Spy
Every now and then when I remember to befriend, the little things in life

12. The Hunter

“The Hunter” is another piano driven ballad, with more of a storyteller perspective from Kiedis lyrically rather than his autobiographic point of view on many of the album’s songs.

Even though you raised me I will never be your father
King of each and every Sunset Marquis
Even though you’re crazy you will never be a bother
You’re my Old Man In the Sea

13. Dreams Of A Samurai

The Getaway‘s closing track “Dreams Of A Samurai” opens up with melancholic piano with a vocal solo by Beverley Chitwood before Flea’s bassline kicks in followed by Chad Smith, Anthony Kiedis, and Josh Klinghoffer. The moody psychedelia on “Dreams Of A Samurai” should make it a live favorite, with plenty of opportunities for extended jamming. Chitwood returns for another vocal solo to close the song. Anthony Kiedis’ lyrics tie together the themes of lost love and dealing with his age and morality on the album.

I’m a lonely lad
I’ve lost myself out on the range
I don’t remember much
So don’t ask me I’ve gone insane

Slowly turning into driftwood
No one ever wants to die alone
Thinking that a pretty gift could
Make you less unknown

Final Thoughts:

While I’m With You seemed like the Red Hot Chili Peppers playing it safe and attempting to continue their late 90’s and 2000’s formula, but without John Frusciante, The Getaway sees the band experiment and break new ground.  Danger Mouse helps the band expand their horizons, with sonic landscapes never before heard in the RHCP catalog. The album sounds very age appropriate, and shows that the Chili Peppers still have a lot to give over 30 years into their career.

The Getaway challenges you as a listener throughout in a good way, though the last few tracks begin to sound monotonous. While it is definitely not on par with Blood Sugar Sex Magik, One Hot Minute, and Californication (there aren’t any hits here on par with those albums), it will definitely be a favorite of die hard fans for years to come. Not every experiment works, but the Chili Peppers should be commended for reinventing their sound and creating a worthy addition to their catalog.

Standout tracks: The Longest Wave, Sick Love, and Dark Necessities.

Score: ***

Songwriting credits: All songs written by Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Chad Smith and Josh Klinghoffer. Except tracks 1, 2, 3, 8 and 12, written by Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Chad Smith, Josh Klinghoffer and Brian Burton. Track 6 written by Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Chad Smith, Josh Klinghoffer, Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

Additional instrumentation:

Brian ‘Danger Mouse’ Burton—Mellotron on tracks 3 and 14; Organ on track 8; Synthesizers on tracks 1, 5, 6, 7, and 13

Elton John—Piano on track 6

Mauro Refosco—Percussion on tracks 6 and 7

Anna Waronker—Additional Vocals on Track 1

All Strings Arranged and Conducted by Daniele Luppi
Score Preparation by Jeremy Levy
String Quartet on tracks 2, 4, 11 and 12 was contracted by Chris Tedesco, and includes:
Peter Kent—1st Violin,
Sharon Jackson—2nd Violin
Briana Bandy—Viola
Armen Ksajikian—Cello

Vocal Choir on tracks 5, 12 and 13 was contracted by SJ Selby, and includes Beverley Chitwood, Alexx Daye, David Loucks, Kennya Ramsey, Matthew Selby, SJ Selby, Loren Smith, & Gregory Whipple

Vocal Solo on Track 15 by Beverley Chitwood