Picks and Pans Review: Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Heavy weighs the crown. With their last release, Mother's Milk, this California quartet was anointed the standard-bearer of funk punk and hailed as the genre-bending future of rock.
Their new record throws a lot of things at the wall, often with a good deal of impetus. But it's a diffuse, bewildering farrago of styles instead of the clear-cut statement that might have cemented their reputation.
The Peppers can still summon up ferocious energy—as in "Power of Equality," a blistering piece of hip hop meets hard rock driven by Flea's turbo bass. But the boys are all over the map. "Sir Psycho Sexy" is a George Clinton—like slice of ribald fun funk. And the fluty psychedelic ballad "Breaking the Girl" sounds like—have mercy—early Blood, Sweat & Tears.
Though this is the most professionally produced Peppers album, the band's continued lack of melodic savvy makes them sound dilettantish and scattered. Due to undeveloped song structures, "Naked in the Rain," "Suck My Kiss" and other tracks are leaky vessels. On slower, more elaborately composed songs, like "Under the Bridge," the Peppers merely sound out of their element.
Even such songs as "If You Have to Ask" and "Funky Monks," both nimbly executed forays into guitar funk, smack more of cleverness than substantial creativity. Artificial flavoring is almost certainly not the condiment with which the Peppers should want to spice their stew. (Warner Bros.)