REVIEW: Red Hot Chili Peppers – “I’m With You”

Red Hot Chili Peppers / I’m With You / Warner

It’s not like I’m With You is the first Red Hot Chili Peppers album without John Frusciante. The prolific guitarist may have been on staff during the group’s meteoric rise to stardom in the early nineties, but he wasn’t the band’s founding axeman; that honour goes to the late Hillel Slovak. And who could forget Dave Navarro’s stint with the group? The point being that the Red Hot Chili Peppers machine has thrived in the past without John and, thanks to the continued efforts of the three remaining longtime members, it seems like it will keep chugging right along without him (again). New guitarist Josh Klinghoffer has a generally smoother tone and style than Frusciante, peppering songs on I’m With You with leaner riffs and tidier solos, though exceptions do exist, such as on the lead single “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” and the funky “Ethiopia”. With Klinghoffer in the fold, evidence still remains of the band’s trademark flare and the different vibes that characterized recent albums.

Quite a few songs, including standouts like “Brendan’s Death Song” and “Police Station” will appeal to fans of the more laid back tracks on By The Way. He also offers up a different style of backing vocal; while his singing is perhaps less distinctive than Frusciante’s, it nonetheless perfectly fits a song like “Meet Me At The Corner”, which serves as a pretty strong case for the man’s inclusion in the band all on its own. And no, your ears aren’t deceiving you; there are a few piano-heavy songs. Yes, apparently Flea learned piano during the lengthy downtime since their last record and quite a number of songs that wound up on I’m With You were written with the instrument. But he still plays bass, and well, dueling with Klinghoffer and a frantic Anthony Kiedis on “Even You Brutus?” It was wise to return to the scene with a slimmer, cleaner album after the over-sized Stadium Arcadium as I’m With You sounds like the group wasn’t in the studio feeling like they had something to prove, or worrying about each other’s egos becoming an issue. It just sounds like they were having fun.

Download: “Brendan’s Death Song”, “Even You Brutus?”

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