There are some bands that almost transcend the need for review, such is the might and fame of the Chili Peppers that most people reading this will already know whether they love or loathe this album and nothing I can say will influence that. But I’ve gotta write something.
Ten albums in and with the departure for the second time of guitar virtuoso John Fruiscante, even the devout among us were prepared for a ‘through the motions’ album. After all, with World domination long since crossed off the ‘To Do’ list, where is the motivation?
But the Chili Peppers have always defied expectation and ‘I’m With You’ has more than a few tricks up its sleeve, this is a Red Hot Chili Peppers album without doubt, but there are just a few glimpses of maturity creeping in and dare I say, growing old gracefully. That is not to say that the shirts are back on and that their socks will now only ever be worn on feet, the video for the first single ‘The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie’ has the band leaping around a rooftop with scant regard for aging hips or impending free bus passes.
Kiedis’ lyrics have always seemed to straddle the line between profound and absurd and when they don’t fall into this bracket they are usually about sex and ‘I’m With You’ is no exception. This time however they are also dealing with mortality and the age old life and death themes.
With the departure of Fruiscante and the introduction of relative youngster Josh Klinghoffer, Flea once more steps up to lead the majority of the tracks with his peerless bass lines. Flea remains one of the greatest bassists, ever, and this album will only compound his status.
Kicking off with the disco funk of ‘Monarchy Of Roses’ with pulsing bass and infectious chorus, followed swiftly by ‘Factory Of Faith’ with trademark Kiedis lullaby rap, you just can’t help but smile. They may not be treading new ground, but they are great opening act.
One of the highlights of the album is the truly beautiful ‘Brendan’s Death Song’, a touching ode to their friend Brendan Mullen who died in 2009. Anthony Kiedis’ vocals have an achingly soulful edge that gives this track some rare emotional punch and is incredibly affecting.
The album is awash with the soaring chorus and driving funk beats you would expect, ‘Ethiopia’, ‘Look Around’ and ‘The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie’ continue in the well-worn furrow the band have laid down over the last 25 years or so.
There are however those aforementioned deviations from the funk-rock blue print. The smooth lounge-rap (new genre alert) of ‘Even You Brutus?’ is charmingly different to anything they have done before, led by piano before Flea’s rubber stringed bass steals the show once more.
‘Police Station’ has an almost Madness-esque jauntiness to it and ‘Meet Me At The Corner’ is refreshingly mellow and reflective.
For a band nearing their 30th Anniversary, the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s are still sounding remarkably youthful. Whilst ‘I’m With You’ may not be as exciting as ‘Blood. Sugar. Sex. Magik’ or as majestic as ‘Californication’, it is more concise than ‘Stadium Arcadium’ and hints at the ‘new beginnings’ Anthony Kiedis has promised.
Find out more about the Red Hot Chili Peppers HERE.