Red Hot Chili Peppers - I'm With You - Album Review

I’m With You shows that the five years since Stadium Arcadium has done wonders for the band. They’re getting back to their best and fans will be glad that the blip hasn’t carried on.

After churning out music for close to thirty years, you can imagine that things would start to get a bit stale. As a band of such veteran status as the Red Hot Chili Peppers you€™d be forgiven for bringing out a mediocre album now and then. Your less than stellar twilight years people would just put down to other younger, modern bands having a fresher sound than you. But, even though Red Hot Chili Peppers have been creating their blend of rock longer than the average age of some of the bands around today, they still produce music that eclipses the majority of the pretenders trying to take the crown off the band that has influenced so many, inspired so many and perhaps, saved so many. Even though some of their latest albums haven€™t been as well received as others, they have always sold well and have been the subject of intense debates between the lovers and the haters. Take for example, Stadium Arcadium (their 2006 release): even though it won five Grammy awards for Best Rock Album, Best Rock Song (for Dani California), Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals (again, for Dani California), Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package and Best Producer (Rick Rubin), the album had a different feel about it compared to previous releases, and some fans loyal fans lost interest in the band. When you compare Stadium Arcadium to albums like Blood Sugar Sex Magik and Californication, it€™s clear that the sound of the Red Hot Chili Peppers had changed. But, then again, perhaps it€™s fitting that their (arguably) worst album was so well received amongst the public. Not the fans, but the public. The album was very much a mainstream release and, even though many of their songs have enjoyed success in the charts before and regularly been played on radio stations, Stadium Arcadium reached a whole different level with the masses and songs like Dani California and Snow ((Hey Oh)), could be heard blasting out of stereos and cars and being sung by people who had slated the band before. To some the songs felt almost artificial and it was as if the band were selling-out. Some quickly became distant and disgusted with the way Red Hot Chili Peppers had now gone about making their music. Instead of creating the lush, care-free, passionate music that was the chief reason why they were so loved €“ instead of their incredible talent €“it felt as if the band had become a machine designed to make their label money and fans put Stadium Arcadium behind the rest of the band€™s albums, out of sight and to gather dust, and it wouldn€™t be surprising if it hasn€™t been listened to since. John Frusciante€™s departure also left a huge hole in the band and this week's new release I€™m With You is the first with new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer and he€™s got a lot to do to live up to Frusciante€™s reputation. Many fans don€™t think he€™ll be able to fill the gap but to be in a band like the Chili€™s is no mean feat so he must be a talented guitarist. But will Frusciante€™s departure hinder the band and can the Chili Peppers redeem themselves and show they€™re not turning into money-hungry monsters and re-affirm with us that Stadium Arcadium was just a horrible blip? As I€™ve said, they€™d be forgiven for bringing out a mediocre album once in their long career. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUMmlk0fQt8 First track, €˜Monarchy Of Roses€™ has a chaotic opening that sounds like the band doing a sound-check or in a practice session. This doesn€™t last long, though, and the whole sound erupts from underneath the weight holding it down. Klinghoffer€™s guitar playing is epic, and his funky riff carries the song and just shades Kiedis€™ voice as the highlight of the song. Kiedis displays his normal drawling, almost lazy style in a way that brings elements of their older material to mind and the lyrics are well-thought out: €˜The crimson tide is flowing through your fingers as you sleep / The promise of a clean regime are promises we keep / Do you like it rough I ask and are you on to task? / The catacombs of bet and bone where cultures come to clash.€™ This track is the first sign of the Chili€™s returning to form €“ and the rest of the album follows suit. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPI5O6gPRG8 €˜Annie Wants A Baby€™, is led by the tight bass-line of Flea. It€™s a track that has been sorely needed by the Chili€™s. It is gentle, yet has a sense of underlying grit. Drummer Chad Smith isn€™t given his dues at times and is shoved into the background by the other more colourful members, but here, he shows his class and his drumming is superb and it sews the whole sound together when it starts to veer away from its melancholy groundings. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRjlbRKyIxU €˜Even You Brutus€™ has a classy piano, which combined with the tight drumming, verges on the periphery of jazz but it€™s Kiedis€™ voice which sets the song apart from the genre and puts it into the Chili Peppers€™ backyard of funk that they established themselves with. It€™s the most intriguing track on the album and the one that firmly pushes memories of Stadium Arcadium into the recesses of your mind. The band seem to be enjoying themselves on this track, too, and it€™s appealing to the listener because of the effect it gives off; pleasure, creativity and contentment. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5sEeBS7wPQ The final track, €˜Dance, Dance, Dance€™, is a funky song that has a beat that€™s hard not to agree with. Klinghoffer€™s guitar playing is what the song is built on and the rest of the band play around this. Kiedis€™ leads the listener throughout and it shows him getting back to his anarchic old self, and surely that€™s a good thing because when he€™s at his best there aren€™t many frontmen in the business who can contend with his inimitable style. I€™m With You shows that the five years since Stadium Arcadium has done wonders for the band. They€™re getting back to their best and fans will be glad that the blip hasn€™t carried on. Let€™s just hope that they€™ll still be creating music like this when their thirtieth year arrives. I'm With You is released on Monday.
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Music editor of WhatCulture. Queries/promos/freebies, e-mail me: rhys@whatculture.com You can follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/Beard_22