Red Hot Chili Peppers - By The Way
2 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: July 29, 2002
Tony BonyataLet me first state that I love the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Which is why it pains me to say that their eighth studio album, By The Way is their most uninspired and lackluster effort to date. Oh sure, it still tastes like The Peppers - only this time around it seems the essence of this spicy quartet has long passed it's expiration date.
Ever since their smash hit ballad "Under The Bridge" from their breakthrough album Blood Sugar Sex Magik (and if you want to get technical it really started with "Behind The Sun" from their 1987 album The Uplift Mofo Party Plan) The Red Hot Chili Peppers have found a formula that works for them, at least on the charts, with melody-laden ballads with just enough spark and explitives to skirt sappiness. Whereas on previous albums the Peppers have used these ballads sparingly - only to temper their testosterone-pumped funk and quirky, unique take on West Coast metal - the result on By The Way, which is filled to the brim with quaint little ditties, is formulaic and downright impotent.
Numbers such as the "The Zephyr Song," "Cabron," "Midnight" and "Dosed" despite being steeped in rich harmonies and pop melodies just come off too weak from a band that is known for their volcanic madcap mayhem. They even try their hand at a ska-light inspired track "On Mercury," that unfortunately dances itself to sleep.
Despite the albums shortcomings, however, there are still a few standout tracks that warrant airtime. While the title track is a perfect example of their above mentioned formula, vocalist Anthony Kiedis still manages to pack a punch with a passionate delivery, as bassist Flea, guitarist John Frusciante and drummer Chad Smith throw in a bit of meaty funk to keep things interesting. The poppy "This Is The Place," as well as the driving "Minor Thing" are both examples of how the Chili Peppers can work in a pop world without insincerely treading water.
Now it's a fact that everybody has to grow up, I just thought it would be a while longer before the Red Hot Chili Peppers, whose zany stage wear has run from giant light bulbs on their heads to just one strategically placed athletic sock, turned to mild picante sauce.
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