Brendan’s Death Song was the selling point of my abandoning the futile search and destroy quest to tear apart the Peppers’ new album, sans the legend that is Frusciante.
Written for Brendan Mullen, a longtime friend of the band and an LA club owner who afforded them one of their first breaks as the opening act for the Bad Brains, it reads as a punk-infused death march, albeit so thickly infused, we aren’t sure if we are leading or following.
Although yet another tribute to a person of meaning (By The Way’s Venice Queen was written for Kiedis’ drug rehabilitation therapist Gloria Scott), it doesn’t dose the listener with the voyeuristic guilt songs directed to a specific someone often can, when one isn’t really offered the blank space to scribble in names of our own choosing. Instead, it reads as an ode to fragility, as multilayered and multifaceted and one would imagine death itself to be. Kiedis, Klinghoffer, Flea and Smith surround us from every angle, drenching us with the uncertainty of whether we are sprinting towards death or away from life. Kiedis’ chantesque repetition inches us towards Klinghoffer’s somewhat dark and hollow guitar playing, that isn’t reminiscent of anyone, but is instead gorgeous in its own right. Although alternating between almost superhuman assertiveness and acedia quickly, there is no discord, as the subject matter of the song itself doesn’t call for level-headedness, in a matter of speaking. Anything more composed would be nothing short of melodic dishonesty.
Although the erratic, sometimes grim nuance that Frusciante brought to the Peppers is lacking, the realization struck me that the Chili Peppers existed before him, and it would appear that they just might keep paving the airwaves with audio gold long after him.
Let me live, so when it’s time to die, even the Reaper cries.
Let me die so when it’s time to live another sun will rise.