Red Hot Chili Peppers, ‘I’m With You’ – Album Review
Red Hot Chili Peppers will always be one of the most revered bands of the alt-rock generation. But like any beast trying to ensure its survival, RHCP have evolved to retain relevancy and continued success. With their new album, 'I'm With You,' the Peppers have mellowed with age, but have not lost their edge; rather, they've honed their craft.
The recently released first single 'The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie' is essentially an airy pop song performed by a funk-rock band and the group (almost defiantly) challenges fans and listeners to expunge the melody and chorus from their heads. It's not quite as funky as many RHCP songs are, but it gets toes tapping and heads nodding.
Album opener 'Monarchy of Roses' opens with distortion on Anthony Kiedis' vocals, so much so that he sounds like he is under water. It sets the table for an album that is loaded with tempo shifts. The song also boasts full, layered vocal harmonies and this summery pop rock song starts things off on the right foot.
'Brendan's Death Song' isn't quite a funeral dirge, but it's a maudlin, melancholic song. Longtime fans know that Kiedis and company don't shy away from exploring their moody side -- see 'Under the Bridge.' It's a longing, slower number that, if you close your eyes for a brief, fleeting moment, will remind you of Coldplay in its sprawling structure. That's not suggesting that 'Brendan's Death Song' sounds like a Coldplay song. It's just shares a similar formula utilized by that band, especially how the moody song starts out spare and is led by Kiedis' vocals, and then builds up to the expansive, lush, listen-to-on-headphones-since-so-much-is-going-on second half.
'Factory of Faith,' which is lyrically erected on a baseball metaphor, harks back to the funked out jazz of the 'Blood Sugar Sex Magick' era, thanks to Flea's thwappy bass. The song could double as a '70s porno track, so maybe there's something to that porn 'stache that Kiedis has been sporting recently. 'Ethiopia' is similarly steered by Flea's bass thud, Kiedis' almost reggae delivery and a rolling riff.
'Annie Wants a Baby' is shimmery funk, while 'Look Around' is another cut that is more classic Peppers, where Kiedis even peels off raps in the verses and drummer Chad Smith carves out a memorable groove.
Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer takes over for John Frusciante, who left RHCP in 2009, and provides solid riff support while creating a sonic backdrop that is a complement to the signature, funked-out rhythms designed by Flea and Smith.
At 14 tracks, 'I'm With You' expects you to make a commitment, since the album has a definite flow. Skipping over tracks is not really a viable option, so invest the time and listen to the album in its entirety.