By The Way

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Warner Brothers, 2002

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


Hard to believe, but it took the Red Hot Chili Peppers nearly 20 years to record an album where there was minimal turmoil within the band. No band member dying tragically of a heroin overdose ( Mother's Milk). No band shuffling ( One Hot Minute, Freaky Styley). And, unlike during the recording of Californication, the band did not have to win back fans or stage a "comeback."

Not that the band intentionally set out to prove anything but themselves for all of these releases, but during 2001, the external pressures that the Red Hot Chili Peppers faced were fairly minimal to rock start standards. Because of Californication, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were able to escape the discount-bin obscurity of their peers.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Unfortunately, for fans of the sex-crazed, funk-filled, thrashing Chili Peppers of old, the mellow tones that were on Californication blanket By The Way. However, if you're willing to put aside the fact that the band will not likely record another "Catholic School Girls Rule," By The Way offers a slew of awards for a patient listener.

The evolution of the Red Hot Chili Peppers is actually not surprising. In high school and early college years, the Peppers were there to provide the soundtrack to a Barton's and Busch-fueled party. As listeners and the band members grew older, music was used more for come down therapy. Flea's bass has gone from slapping to jazzy mellowness. And Anthony Kiedis's songwriting has matured. Most of By The Way's sobering tone tackles drug addiction and the perils of mortality.

That's not to say that the Peppers have gone all Joy Division on its fans. Flea's bass line on the title track sounds suspiciously like Fugazi's "Repeater" and even if you're sick of power ballads by the Peppers, the recent additions of this album (namely "Don't Forget" and "Tear") could easily stand with the best of their power ballads that made them famous.

Still, with all the heavy topics levied on By The Way, Kiedis could still use some help in the lyrical department. His much-improved falsetto gives a haunting edge in the opening of "This is the Place" : "This is the place where all the junkies go / Where time gets fast But everything gets slow." However, Kiedis slowly sinks into some of the embarrassing lyrics that plagued so much of their earlier material (though the music was so great, most listeners overlooked this). "Can I smell your gasoline / Can I pet your wolverine."

By The Way is definitely more Beach Boys Pet Sounds era or late Beatles and less Funkadelic and Black Flag. If you like the band's former manic energy, by all means, this may be an album to skip. However, if you're willing to go along for the ride, and are willing to picture the Red Hot Chili Peppers settling into its mellow California stage of their careers (ala the Eagles or Fleetwood Mac), By The Way is a great soundtrack to a Sunday afternoon. Who would have thought the Red Hot Chili Peppers could have staked its claim to the hangover music market?

Rating: B

User Rating: A


To me the Chili's best album. This album has such a Beach Boys vibe to it. This is truely John F's album imo........his style and passion is what made this album what it is......if one ever wanted to know what John's mind is like musically.....this album is a accurate description....Anthony's lyrics are some of his best from missing a dear friend who helped him i rehab in Venice fighting his demons on Don't Forget wanting love on Dosed.....this is a beautiful.

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