If a band is lucky enough to acheive an 8th album, it's quite common to find alot of said bands' fans alienated by a new musical direction the artist has decided to pursue. Not immune to this musicians' curse, The Red Hot Chili Peppers opted to attempt more harmony drenched pop-influenced stylings as well as their beloved white boy funk. After the successful return of John Frusciante and the equally successful "Californication", the group was apparently feeling confident in its' new found path, and made a stab at improving upon that formula.
"By The Way" begins quietly enough, with Frusciante picking a simple guitar pattern, giving way for Anthony Kiedes to join in vocally. Just as your settling in for a quiet harmonious tune, the song erupts with enough force to knock Hiroshima off the map (again). I challenge anyone to not get caught up in quite possibly the most infectious groove the Peppers lay down here.
"Universally Speaking" follows up this pumpin' track, and while certainly deserving of its' own merit, simply falters when compared to it's predecessor.
It also provides a clearer glimpse of the poppier side of the group, and things to come on the rest of the album.
"This Is the Place" is the darkest song on the album, lyrically and musically. Touching on such topics as death, heroin, and those who consume it, it provides an interesting insight into Anthony's mind and thoughts on these aforementioned subjects. Musically, it incorporates some of Frusciantes' interest in electronic synth-pop while still maintaining a Chili Peppers personality.
"Dosed" is a beautiful pop song with tranquil, slightly hallucigenic lyrics. I started to realize around this point that not only could the band throw down grooves like none other, but they were masters of harmony and texture, and they would employ such traits in "The Zephyr Song" and "I Could Die For You".
Quite possibly the tour de force of the album, "Can't Stop" is driven by a funky guitar riff, rapping vocals, and of course, Fleas' masterful bass playing. Chad Smith lays down a solid groove, and Frusciante provides beautiful back-up vocals, giving this tune power and beauty.
There are weak songs, as made evident by "Warm Tape", which I find to be an annoying tune with a weak melody, it picks up slightly about a minute into it, but I find it to be too little to late.
There are many great songs on this album, and even long time fans shouldn't be too disappointed, given they like melody in their tunes. I find this album in regular rotation in my headphones, and rightfully so. Whether or not the Chili Peppers will continue this melodic growth on the imminent "Stadium Arcadium" is up for debate, but if "Dani California" is any indicator, I have reason to believe things will only get better for the California foursome, and rightfully so.