[HOT TRACK]Edges softened, but the Peppers still deliver a kick

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[HOT TRACK]Edges softened, but the Peppers still deliver a kick

One thing that many of today's rock bands do is combine several genres in a single song. Pioneering that trend in the 1980s was the Red Hot Chili Peppers, with a funk-rock-pop style that was testosterone-driven yet marked by euphonious melodies and harmony. Even after the band made it big, the members remained playful with their music, which made it seem ever fresh and new. "There is more infinite beauty out there than there could ever be negativity," said John Frusciante, the band's guitarist. The philosophy sums up the Chili Peppers: very hilarious, very California and very hot.

The band recently released its first album in three years and its second since Frusciante rejoined the group to make 1999's "Californication." The 16 tracks on the new disk, "By the Way," are more diverse and melodious than those on the last album, and verge on sentimentality. If you play the melody lines as a piano solo, you would take them for syrupy love songs. "It just sounds better when you put in harmony," Frusciante explained.

The album opens with the title cut, in which the vocalist, Anthony Kiedis, hums with soft nasal sounds before his bandmates break out in stirring guitars and he switches to powerful rap verses. The band starts to unveil the color of the album -- uplifting and carefree -- from the second track, "Universally Speaking." "The Zephyr Song," one of the strongest tracks, reminds you of Californian sunshine. "On Mercury" and "Dosed" are sweet but not saccharine thanks to a charged-up backbeat and blithe vocals. The most playful track is "Cabron," with a Latino influence made over in the band's style. The Chili Peppers do display their old vigor in rockers like "Can't Stop" and "Throw Away Your Television."

The band even threw in a ballad, bearing out that the Chili Peppers had some real fun this time and did what they wanted. "I Could Die For You" can't be called a winning song, but it wasn't a total disaster either.

"By the Way" should please fans of the Chili Peppers. The four members are still in fine form, still able to put together potent funk-rock-rap hybrids with a bit of Californian sunshine and still able to go wild on stage, as they are sure to do on July 26 when they play Seoul's Jamsil Stadium.

by Chun Su-jin

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