Red Hot Chili Peppers – I’m With You (Warner Bros)

September 4, 2011 by  

Depending on your own personal pretentions and being of the age to fully appreciate the last, most recent transitional period in music, you will generally fall either side of a thin line: the millennium. Prior to the year 2000, and the era overrun by pop, the alternative music interest would have been dominated by massive musical juggernauts that stayed the ‘radio-friendly rock’ path for the most part.

After the dawning of Y2K, Julian Casablancas came to the party. He put vodka in the punch and smashed up all the gnomes and in the morning, when the mess was cleaned up, the dominance of bands like Foo Fighters and Creed and today’s subjects Red Hot Chili Peppers were found to be laid to waste. They were labelled as redundant, prehistoric and perhaps worst, brainless.

Now, some bands adapted, and some didn’t. Bands like Creed and Limp Bizkit died, never to recoup their previous status as global forces. Green Day went all-or-nothing and somehow came out the other side, and pop-punk’s deeper issues manifested themselves in the growing up of Blink-182 and no matter who you are, you just can’t help but like Dave Grohl. It’s a physical impossibility. The Chili Peppers on the other hand tried to redefine themselves, and made an admirable attempt at growing their sound. But by the time they dropped their monster double-disc ‘Stadium Arcadium’, the damage to working relationships between songwriters, band members and egos had been done. The rift eventually led to the departure of John Frusciante; a moment described by the remaining members as ‘a huge relief’.

So, to the comeback and a brand new beginning where into the breach to heal the fracture steps Josh Klinghoffer, a mixed bag and on/off collaborator of Frusciante’s, to work on new material that would see the band out of their third and into their fourth decade in the music industry. To his credit, Klinghoffer is an exceptional musician, and on the evidence of ‘I’m With You’ it seems to have been a cunning appointment, as the newest Chili sounds like Frusciante’s second coming only without the baggage and temperament. Suddenly under the new regime, which was once probably the old regime, these Peppers seem to have got their spice back.

Lead single ‘The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie’ isn’t anything special in the grand scheme of things, but if you’re a long time supporter of RHCP then it is exactly what you had wanted to hear. The funk is back in the bass and drums are the driving force and Antony Kiedis is there to oversee proceedings with his faux-rap swagger. For the most part lyrically, the album is meaningless but the words fit into each like a jigsaw puzzle, and hidden in there somewhere are gem-like lines such as ‘She was good at getting there / But not as much for round trip’ from ‘Factory of Faith’.

Songs like ‘Did I Let You Know’ and ‘Look Around’ will surely slot in tight as the Californication-era fan’s favourites, and even the slight surprises like opener ‘Monarchy of Rose’ and the bittersweet ‘Brendan’s Death Song’ hit the spot in the right places and bring the band back down to the basics that helped catapult them to the stage that they now grace.

It’s a rounded and sure to be welcomed comeback to the golden days for the Californian funk-rock kings, who thankfully haven’t lost their juvenile appearance or sense of humour. And long may this new era continue, just so long as they remember their place.

[rating:3.5]


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