Red Hot Chili Peppers – I’m With You…Album Review

Posted: 2nd September 2011 by refrainmusic in Albums

Red Hot Chili Peppers - I'm With You

I was quite excited when I first heard of a new ‘Peppers’ cd after roughly five years, but the departure of long time guitarist and writer John Frusciante and the entrance of youthful Josh Klinghoffer made me nervous, I wish I could say I was wrong.  Frusciante was an integral part of the Chili’s sound for twenty odd years, he played on their two biggest albums, Blood Sugar Sex Magik & Californication and it shows on this album…it’s like getting a flat tire and replacing it with the donut, still a functional ride, but just not the same feel.

I’m really puzzled by this band, releasing the first single, the very oddly named “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” with it’s bizarre title and it’s disjointed pace seems like the first of many odd occurrences… odd to me when there are, in fact, better songs on the album.  Not that anyone really knows what lead singer Anthony Kiedas is talking about most of the time anyway, but some of the lyrics on this album just leave me scratching my head, and what is with that seventies porn star mustache he’s sporting lately?  When I think of the Chili’s I think of the hard hitting “Give It Away” where Kiedas is in your face, flash, and style, only to be replaced on this release with Kiedas the ‘crooner’.  It’s an odd fit, and though he belted out their classic “Under The Bridge” back in the day with the chops of a polished balladeer, Kiedas is better as that alternative to mainstream music that is a bit shocking in his delivery.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

This album does have some bright lights for me, there are a couple of songs that I would have lead off with as the first single more so than the aforementioned ‘Maggie’, for example the funky ‘Look Around’ or ‘Factory of Faith’ and the piano driven ‘Happiness Loves Company’.  I’d go so far as to say that one of the best songs on the album (if not the best) is “Brendan’s Death Song”, a questionable title, but a solid acoustic song that climbs into a strong rock song.  It’s a tribute to LA nightclub owner that gave the band their first break way back when.  Another bright light for me is the bass playing of long time band member “Flea”, his time playing over the last five years in other groups (African Express / Atoms For Peace), and at a conservatory of music studying music theory, composition, and surprisingly jazz trumpet have added a depth of dimension to his already skillful playing.  Listen for some of the brilliant changes and chord progressions that he fits in between the beats pounded out by drummer Chad Smith it will make your realize how skilled this guy really is, but Flea, dude…ditch the cotton candy green hair, you’re almost fifty for crying out loud and it’s a distraction from your talent.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

I would suggest that this sixth in a row produced album by Rick Rubin is far from the best offering from the Chili’s, and perhaps it’s time for a change in that regard as well.   Yes, Rubin managed to produce ‘Magik’ and ‘Californication’ but slipped a little with ‘Stadium Arcadium’, and it appears has slipped a little further with “I’m With You.  This album isn’t a bad listen but it’s not really leaping into my favorites list, it has some solid songs but there’s no ‘Give It Away’, or even ‘Dani California’ on this album, the RHCP’s can still deliver a myriad of musical sounds, but the ‘Peppers’ have seemed to have lost a bit of their spice.

1. Monarchy of Roses
2. Factory of Faith
3. Brendan’s Death Song
4. Ethiopia
5. Annie Wants a Baby
6. Look Around
7. The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie
8. Did I Let You Know
9. Goodbye Hooray
10. Happiness Loves Company
11. Police Station
12. Even You Brutus?
13. Meet Me at the Corner
14. Dance, Dance, Dance

2.5 / 5