It's also, as recent Chili Peppers records are wont to be, very serious-minded. You know this because Kiedis switches on his Kermit the Frog voice when he gets deep (Exhibit A: "Dosed"), and because there are very few raps and rhymes. Returning producer Rick Rubin coats By the Way in a thick sheen of lush harmonies and even lusher melodies. This is what grown-up Chili Peppers sound like, and make no mistake, this group has completely reached adulthood.
The band has also snuggled into a blanket of comfort that leaves little room for movement. By the Way basically takes the best parts of Californication and repeats them for more than an hour. The title tune rolls most confidently, because it's most familiar -- to fans' softened ears and to the band's recurring program.