Do the words "Red Hot Chili Peppers" and "beautiful" belong in the same sentence? Yes, particularly when discussing the quartet's new album, the Rick Rubin-produced By the Way.

Do the words "Red Hot Chili Peppers" and "beautiful" belong in the same sentence? Yes, particularly when discussing the quartet's new album, the Rick Rubin-produced By the Way. Close observers of the Grammy Award-winning band have witnessed a transition from funk-metal (1984's eponymous debut) and manic metal (1989's Mother's Milk) to alt-leaning acoustics (1991's Blood Sugar Sex Magik, also produced by Rubin) and pop flirtations (1999's Californication). The casually titled By the Way finds singer Anthony Kiedis, guitarist John Frusciante, drummer Chad Smith, and bassist Flea further delving into all things pop, from warm Beach Boys-inflected harmonies ("The Zephyr Song") and Burt Bacharach-styled melodies ("Universally Speaking") to cool Gary Numan-hued atmospherics ("Warm Tape") and Bow Wow Wow-spackled drumming ("Throw Away Your Television"). By the way, this is one beautiful record.—MP