Sound — 9
So this is the Red Hot Chili Pepper's great masterpiece, eh? Well, as Flea said in an interview, this certainly is the Chili Peppers, and if you don't like at least part of this album, you probably don't (and never did) like much about the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The sound in this album borrows heavily from their own work in the past, and really can be thought of as a culmination of all that said work. It has its share of slow rockers (Snow, She's Only 18, Made You Feel Better) and funk tunes (Hump De Bump, Warlocks, 21st Century), and for the most part, the pacing is pretty good. Are there fillers? Yeah, probably at least a couple of the songs could have been dropped, but depending on who you ask, these songs will probably differ (in my opinion, Readymade, Animal Bar, Torture Me, and Slow Cheetah are markedly inferior to the other material in this album.) Sonically, they don't so much experiment as evolve. Listening to the album, the thing that struck me was that this album didn't sound like any particular Chili's previous discs, but reminded me nonetheless of much of their past work. Only a couple of departures from the Chili's sound are obvious, and they, for the most part work, see the Simon and Garfunkel-ish If and the '60s pop of Made You Feel Better. One last thing, the instrumentation of the album is excellent, as Frusciante finally discarded the minimalist playing of the Chili's last few albums, and really busts loose with excellent guitar work. Flea's bass is no longer as prominent as it has been, but crack up that bass a bit and you'll see it is just as furious and funky as before, it just blends into Chad's drumming much better than in the past. The band has definitely evolved, even since By The Way.
Lyrics — 8
Asking Kiedis' lyrics to make sense is a futile and worthless effort. The best you can hope for is vague symbolism and metaphor and random words inserted to make the song rhyme. As demonstrated in songs like Hump De Bump, Kiedis is more interested in the sound of the words than what the words represent themselves. That said, I really enjoyed the lyrics of She's Only 18, Hard To Concentrate, and Death Of A Martian. His voice has help up pretty well over the years, and he is probably one of the only singers over 40 that's still expanding his singing repertoire. "Charlie" is one of my top three songs on this album simply because of the voicework.
Overall Impression — 9
Is this album good? Well, it's only good if you think the Red Hot Chili Peppers are good, as nothing in this album will change anyone's opinion about them. You'll either love them more, or you'll hate them more. This album is at once as melodic as By The Way, and as funky as Blood Sugar Sex Magic (ok, maybe not that funky, but I swear Storm In A Teacup is the funkiest song they've done since Freaky Styley). Contrary to popular opinion of those who criticize this album, the songs don't sound the same at all, and really, each song has its own unique flavor. The problem? 28 songs is just too much to listen to at once. As such, I suggest listening through it in segments, which should help in digesting the songs more easily. If the Chili's had decided to only use the best 15 songs of this album, I would be hailing this as the masterpiece of the year, but still, even the fillers feel like they belong here. This is the Chili's experience, whether you enjoy it or not is really up to you.