The Red Hot Chili Peppers have been around for years, literally. 28 to be precise, and with as many albums as previous bandmemebers, just the 10, it’s been a rough ride for original band members, bassist Michael “Flea” Balzary and vocalist Anthony Kiedis. “I’m With You” then marks a milestone for the band as they reach double figures. A debut for new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, replacing the outgoing John Frusciante, who leaves for the second time.
Let’s get down to the album then. With this being the first record for 5 years, since 2006’s double-album ‘Stadium Arcadium’, a lot was riding on “I’m With You”. And truth be told, it’s not bad. Infact, it’s one of the highlights of a poor year for music in general. However, it isn’t perfect, it’s what is regarded as a ‘safe bet’ by the band, something which may disappoint those who fancied the Chili’s to come back with a bang.
It certainly starts with a bang though. ‘Monarchy of Roses’ builds and builds with a faster pace, erupting into the atypical sound the Chili’s bring, their unique brand of funk-rock evident immediately. This is the sound the fans have been loving for years and will be anxious to hear once again. Other highlights include: ‘Brendan’s Death Song’, a sombre tribute to the band’s friend Brendan Mullen who passed away in 2009, which bursts into life, newcomer Klinghoffer bringing a lot to the table. ‘Look Around’ possibly the most joyous song on the album. Recent single, ‘The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie’, isn’t upto much in comparison to some of the tracks on the album, the bass of ‘Flea’ only really saving it from being contender for worst song on the record.
In the second half of the album, the quality is still there, but it doesn’t seem to appear as frequently as in the first half. However, some of my favourite songs of the album come from this section. The high energy perfomances of ‘Did I Let You Know’, ‘Goodbye Hooray’ and ‘Happiness Loves Company’, provide a much needed boost, and all add something different in their own way. ‘Know’, adding trumpets and excessive backing vocals to the mix, ‘Hooray’, giving a bass solo from ‘Flea’ and some African drumming, and ‘Company’, with lyrics of California and LA being reminders of past glories- ‘Californication‘ anyone?- and the keys of Klinghoffer mixing things up just a bit.
From then on bar ‘Even You Brutus?’, the record comes to a week end. ‘Brutus’, a prime example of the Chili’s signature sound, and really showcasing Kiedis’ instantly recognisable tones. That’s always been the way with this lot, the lyrics have never been the best, but the vocals more than make up for it. Songs such as ‘Ethiopia’, ‘Annie Wants a Baby’, ‘Meet Me at the Corner’ and ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’, never really worked for me, and I wouldn’t have minded the EP to have been shortened from it’s 14 songs and 59 minutes length.
So overall, a lovely little chapter for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, is mostly likely what ‘I’m With You’ will be remembered as, not so much of a progression, but the roots for expansion are certainly there.
‘I’m With You’ Tracklisting:
“Monarchy of Roses”
“Factory of Faith”
“Brendan’s Death Song”
“Annie Wants a Baby”
“The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie”
“Did I Let You Know”
“Happiness Loves Company”
“Even You Brutus?”
“Meet Me at the Corner”
“Dance, Dance, Dance”