Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication

by Bob Coyne Rating: Release Date:1999-06-07

Following a string of unsatisfactory replacements (including former Jane's Addiction alum Dave Navarro), Californication--the band's seventh album--saw them reunited with both errant guitarist John Frusciante (hauled out of a long and debilitating heroin addiction) and producer Rick Rubin, whose mixture of commerical nous and sonic smarts helped make 1991's Blood Sugar Sex Magik their breakthrough set. It's a welcome reunion: Frusciante's playing, in particular--tight, yet lyrical--fits these songs like a second skin, lending them a sensual sort of ease that is perfectly in keeping with the reckless hedonism of their lyrics. The songs themselves are much the same mixture of adrenalised swagger and high-tensile funk as ever. And typically, there are two or three fillers here ("Emit Remmus", "Purple Stain") which probably should have been left on the shelf. Ultimately, though, it's their ballads ("Road Trippin'", the moody, desolate "Scar Tissue") which really demonstrate their strengths, both as songwriters and arrangers--and reveal, albeit briefly, the hearts this crew normally take such pains to conceal. --Andrew McGuire

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