A quick search through the reviews for The Red Hot Chili Peppers brand new album The Getaway reveal a few common threads; while the overall feeling is that it’s good but not great, the other common theme is the age of the Peppers. Except for recent guitar addition Josh Klinghoffer, the rest of the “boys” are all in their early-to-mid 50’s, and one of the snarkier comments claims they’re promoting Dad Rock. It’s easy to say that age isn’t anything but a number, and even easier to say that’s something old people tell themselves to feel young. But then you remember that David Bowie released vital music almost until the day he died at nearly 70 years old, Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Wonder still perform marathon-length concerts, and Rod Stewart didn’t miss a beat when Asap Rocky crashed his Carpool Karaoke session. So the days when the Peppers would pose wearing nothing but a single sock may be over, but does the party still go on?
The answer is yes, kind of. The Peppers discography is full of gear shifts, from the wild punk funk of the early albums (sounding practically like a different band), to the commercial breakthrough of Blood Sugar Sex Magik, to the more pensive but still rather hard charging later years of By The Way. On The Getaway, longtime producer Rick Rubin is gone and ever-prolific Danger Mouse is on board, Elton John also stops by to play piano for a song. The result is a far more mellow, slinkier Chili Peppers record than ever before. Opening with the tight title track, then brooding first single “Dark Necessities” and the bottom-heavy stomp of “We Turn Red,” it takes a while to get to the more frenetic moments. Towards the end of the record it’s a downright shock when the shredding riffs of “This Ticonderoga” kick in. Another glorious moment is when everything except the bass drops out on the end of “Goodbye Angels,” shining even more of a spotlight on what an amazing bass player Flea is.
The thing is, even if their hardest partying days are over (the chorus for “Dark Necessities” goes “You don’t know my mind/You don’t know my kind/Dark necessities are part of my design,” making it perhaps the best feel-bad song of the summer), and even if they’re more serious than ever, there is still both fun and funk here. “Illusionary is so damn scary/I call my best friend Flea” sings Anthony Kiedis on “This Ticonderoga;” how cool is an in-song, in-band shout out to your best bud of several decades? This one’s definitely a grower, but after it sinks in you’ll be singing along. Dad rock be damned, even if The Getaway won’t get the party started, you sure will enjoy listening to it on the ride home.
-Jason T. Jaskot