In 2011 they released the somewhat jarring I’m With You and were rewarded with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Of course they deserved the accolade, but let’s be fair, their penultimate album wasn’t the best; and not penultimate, in the sense that this is their final…because for all intents and purposes, The Chilis are back.
Having ended their long term relationship with Rick Rubin, they have now employed the efforts of Danger Mouse (U2, Black Keys) and Nigel Godrich (Radiohead). The former co-writing several tracks, while the latter gives structure and semblance to the mayhem; The Getaway gives us back a little of the cock-sock rock of old with the addition of some suspect keys.
This album is elemental in style, more fragmented by their old form of playing. The time off following touring and Flea’s skiing injury which almost cost him his career has put them in good stead.
Lead single ‘Dark Necessities’ is a good litmus test for whether you will like the remainder. The familiar staccato lyricism of Kiedis is hard not to cling to while Flea’s signature slap and pop bass is distinct and ever present. Klinghoffer’s guitar is subtle and powerful in its melodic contributions and Frusciante’s understudy shows off much more on this record than before with solos in ‘Sick Love’ and even a Hendrix homage with his ‘Little Wing’ intro to ‘The Longest Wave’.
‘Goodbye Angels’ is true to form, with lyrics like “sticky fingers, find a way to take her” – it could only be Kiedis delivering them. The vocal accompaniment from band members is expertly accomplished; the song builds in intensity, burning for a while at the edges before erupting into a rage, tearing away the structure and leaving only splinters. ‘Go Robot’ is a clear deviation from the album’s tone but a welcome one, the simple, straight beats of Smith instruct the rest while the synth pop and guitar support channel Chic & Nile Rodgers bringing a different type of funk to the table than heard on The Getaway.
The heaviest offering of the album is ‘This Ticonderoga’. Distorted bar chords and soaring solo’s are offset by intimate, restrained moments; the loud-quiet-loud formula perfected by Pixies isn’t a bad one to apply when you need to wake a listener up towards the end of a record.
As the album draws to a close the final moments in songs such as ‘Encore’ and ‘The Hunter’ don’t lend themselves to the most memorable hooks; that being said, sang in a stadium packed full of fans and there’s your sombre ballad moment sorted.
The Getaway trumps their last effort tenfold and offers tracks that I would hold on par with those of Stadium Arcadium and even By The Way. For a bunch of ageing rockers, they’ve proven that with a little guidance and some fresh ears to reign them in, they’re capable of making a well-polished and new-sounding album.