The last time the Red Hot Chili Peppers released a debut single from a forthcoming album, Barack Obama was still a freshman senator, Rebecca Black was only nine years old, and the music world was irrationally obsessed with Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day.”
Today Obama is president, Black is a pop star, and people remember Susan Powter better than they remember Daniel. And in the middle of it all, the Red Hot Chili Peppers remain steadfast. Sure, they have a new guitarist (longtime collaborator Josh Klinghoffer, replacing the once-again-departed John Frusciante), but if their new single “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” (the first track from their end-of-summer album I’m With You) is any indication, things are still cool in Pepperland.
Sticking with the same mid-tempo groove that colored recent successes like “Dani California” and “Can’t Stop,” “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” lays out a checklist for RHCP hits. Extra-funky Flea bassline? Check. Easy walking drum beat? Yup. Complementary shards of funk guitar? Indeed. Chaise-lounge philosophizing care of Anthony Kiedis? Of course. A heaping ton of cow bell? Yes and yes.
And yet something might be missing. Maybe the chorus isn’t as big as past hits, or perhaps the “Hey now” in the hook evokes too many memories of the sleepy “Snow (Hey Oh).” Still, it does feel like a back-to-basics return for the band after the circus rock excesses of their 2006 double album Stadium Arcadium, and any time the Chili Peppers take a step back (as they did on the now-classic 1999 album Californication), good things tend to happen. “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” is no “Scar Tissue,” but the groove still feels good.