The new album from the Red Hot Chili Peppers is their first in five years and their first record without guitarist John Frusciante. Of course Frusciante had departed from the band once before, only to rejoin them a few years later to make the classic 'Californication' album and the highly successful follow-up 'By The Way'. Those two albums seemed to represent a second coming for a band who a lot of people thought were dead and buried. But now the Chilis are once again without Frusciante and have filled his place with Josh Klingoffer, who was apparently the band's long-time guitar tech.
Sadly things dip again with 'Did I Let You Know', which suffers from weak songwriting and another unconvincing chorus despite the presence of some exciting free jazz horns in the middle. 'Goodbye Hooray' however is a great improvement, a rather chaotic and funky number that provides the album with its most dramatic and exciting moment. 'Happiness Loves Company' is an interesting departure with shades of The Beatles in the skipping bounce of the rhythm and even a hint of 90's Britpop, but melodically is pure RHCP. However like most of these songs the chorus is far from vital, and comes across as Chili Peppers by-numbers. 'Police Station' is probably meant to be the record's big epic but despite a warm charming bridge, the verse and chorus have very little impact and the song drags along in a rather mundane fashion. 'Even You, Brutus' is an unsuccessful stab at hip hop, while 'Meet Me On The Corner' is pleasantly melancholic and unlike a lot of the tracks builds into something positive that gives the feeling that they put a bit more effort into this one. The album ends with 'Dance Dance Dance''s carnival rhythms and subtle guitar effects, but again the songwriting is somewhat unremarkable and as a closing track it doesn't finish the record in a convincing fashion.
Out of the 14 tracks I can pick out five songs that can stand up to the best of the band's previous output, but this group do have a bit of a reputation for always making their albums a few tracks too long. This time however there is far too much filler, suggesting that perhaps they were struggling for quality material and just decided to record whatever they had available rather than taking their tme to make most of these songs stronger. But after five years is this really the best record they could have come up with? Don't get me wrong, not one track on this record sounds bad but sadly at least half of it sounds like music that could blend into the background without attracting too much attention. One positive thing is at least it isn't as over-long and bloated as its double-album predecessor 'Stadium Arcadium', but nevertheless the Red Hot Chili Peppers clearly need to regain their sense of quality control. 6/10