Album reviews: Red Hot Chili Peppers, I’m With You

Posted: September 8, 2011 in Odds and Sods

Red Hot Chili Peppers, I’m With You: The latest album from veteran rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers finds the band in another period of transition.
Guitarist/songwriter John Frusciante left the band for the second time following an extremely successful three-album run culminating in the double disc Stadium Arcadium in 2006. I’ve always preferred Frusciante over any of the other axemen in the band’s long history, and wasn’t sure what to expect with a new guitarist joining the fold.
Josh Klinghoffer, a 31-year-old who toured with the band and contributed on Frusciante solo projects, was brought in to be his replacement. On their first album with Klinghoffer in the fold, the Red Hot Chili Peppers deliver a strong set of tunes and seem re-energized by their new member.
Klinghoffer is very subtle as a player. He doesn’t go for the big guitar solo, he slithers in and out of the songs and adds texture to the proceedings. He allows the rest of the band to do its thing, adding just the right touches to the songs. He also ably replicates Frusciate’s falsetto harmonies, a secret weapon of the band as Frusciante was almost as valuable as a vocalist as he was as a guitar player and tunesmith.
The band doesn’t break any new ground on the album, instead playing to its many strengths. Charged-up opener “Monarchy of Roses” hints at a disco-metal combination, making its working title “Disco Sabbath” quite understandable. Tearjerker ballad “Brandon’s Death Song” is quite simply one of the best tunes the band has ever written, as it was penned for an L.A. club owner and longtime friend of the band who recently passed away. It’s heartfelt without being sappy and has a surprising middle section in which drummer Chad Smith flexes his muscle as the band cranks up the volume.
Lead single “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” is funky and brings lots of cowbell, while “Did I Let You Know” allows bassist Flea to rock out on the trumpet.
Other highlights include the piano-driven “Happiness Loves Company,” the sweet “Meet Me at the Corner” and the hard-rocking “Goodbye Hooray” and “Even You Brutus?”
Album closer “Dance, Dance, Dance” provides some nice atmosphere and again has a middle section where the band surprisingly rocks out for a bit.
The album doesn’t quite reach the heights of the band’s best material, but it’s an expertly performed, thoroughly enjoyable platter.

Sod rating: ****

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