The Red Hot Chili Peppers have dedicated their first album of the 21st century, “By The Way”, to an unusually laid-back collection of mid-tempo songs – a sound not heard on any one of their previous seven studio albums, and one which fans of up-tempo classics, like “Around The World” and “Love Rollercoaster”, may not be entirely used to.
Standout tracks include the LP-opening “By The Way” – the radio-friendly lead single in which two strikingly different song riffs meld into one to form a flawless party record with the familiar Chili Pepper sound. “Can’t Stop” with its quiet introduction builds up to another strong track (potential single) and there’s no denying the artistic merit of “The Zephyr Song” – it’s undoubtedly the Red Hot “Chill” Peppers on this one – and there’s also the buzzy “One Mecury”, “Tear” and the classy oddity of “Venice Queen”.
Of course there’s still a few tracks that aren’t nearly so endearing – “Warm Tape” and “Throw Away Your Television” both lack the excitement of previous Chilis’ releases and are medicocre at best. Thankfully, even in the average moments of the record you can’t fault the band’s performances – Anthony Kiedis’ distinct voice and John Frusciante’s familiar guitar sound are both executed well – and perhaps it’s the production and dull-ness of certain tracks that make “By The Way” slightly inferior to say “Californication” and “Blood Sugar Sex Magic”.
It’s not a complete departure of what most what consider the norm for the Chilis – the lyrical content is pure Peppers and there’s still strange artwork for the album cover – and if you can handle the craziness of the Chili Peppers toned down significantly than you’ll still enjoy “By The Way”, because it’s more than enough to satisfy any Pepper cravings you might have.