Chili Peppers' latest full of surprises

Red Hot Chili Peppers'By The Way'Warner Bros. Records

The Red Hot Chili Peppers is a band that is impossible to categorize. At times, the members write songs that are mainstream enough to be played on public radio stations, like "Other Side" from the 1999 CD, "Californiacation." Then, on the very same release, they turn around and carelessly throw together hopeless tracks like "I Like Dirt."

Because the Peppers are so unpredictable, the only thing listeners can be sure to expect from the band are surprises.

The style of music on the group's newest release, "By The Way," changes so much from song to song that it wouldn't be shocking to learn that more than one band was used to produce the CD. Yet the Red Hot Chili Peppers generated "By The Way" completely on their own, with only the help of digital effects to give their electric guitars a variety of different sounds.

On the track "By The Way," which is the both the first-released single and the namesake of the CD, the Red Hot Chili Peppers begin playing in a style that fits perfectly alongside bands like Nickelback and Fuel. Then, right when you think the Red Hot Chili Peppers are just another alternative rock band, the members leave behind their mellow guitar chords and begin screaming out techno-infused rap phrases. With mysterious lyrics like, "Dog town/blood bath/rib cage/soft tail," the Red Hot Chili Peppers' track "By The Way" sounds more like a Beastie Boys song than anything from the rock genre.


Throughout the CD, the Red Hot Chili Peppers experiment with the simple, repetitive beats of rap music; the trumpet and electric guitar combination of ska and, on "Midnight," music that sounds like the special effects from a scary movie. At times, the guitarists will play slow, drawn-out chords one second and then shoot out frantic and upbeat melodies the next. There is no downtime when playing "By The Way," for listeners must always be on their toes, awaiting the band's next surprise.

Even the lyrics will leave listeners guessing as to what comes next. The Red Hot Chili Peppers sing about going to a movie, becoming a father, belly dancers and throwing away their televisions, to a name a few subjects. Many times, with lyrics like "Can I smell your gasoline/can I pet your wolverine/On the day my best friend died/I could not get my copper clean" from "This Is the Place," only the band members themselves will be able to understand the meanings of their songs.

"By The Way" is very different from any other CD produced by any other band. Listening to the music is like making your way through a haunted house -- you never know what you will run into around each corner.

Jenna Christopherson is a junior at Rochester Century High School. To respond to reviews in Sound &; Vision, call 252-1111, category TEEN (8336); write Teen Beat, Post-Bulletin, P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903-6118 or send e-mail.

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