Thursday, 16 February 2012

Red Hot Chili Peppers - I'm With You [CD] [QUICK&SHORT]

Overview.
The most recent offering from ageing Californian funk-rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Released in August 2011, this album was the first since 2009's Stadium Arcadium. It is also the first album to feature new guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer, who replaces the long-serving John Frusciante. The album was received well, reaching number one in the UK charts and several of the singles have also reached number one. Notably, The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie (below) gave the Chilis a record-breaking 12th number one on the Billboard Alternative Songs Chart.



Major Points.
Funkadelic - The album certainly seems to move away from the trend that the Chilis were working themselves into: By The Way and then Stadium Arcadium were firmly in the "pop-rock" genre, perhaps hoping to gain a more mainstream fanbase. I'm With You on the other hand is much funkier, louder and more energetic - slightly more akin to the 1980's Chili sound. Look Around, for example, is an explosive track that grabs your attention with its chunky bass and pacy drums. Did I Let You Know (below) is another catchy hooking track that is overflowing with energy which feels more like it was written by the bold young scamps the Chilis used to be.




Hollow - Sadly, the album as a whole feels lacking in personality. Although the sound is much more vibrant than recent offerings, the energy on show doesn't mask the fact that a substantial and positive musical influence is missing - John Frusciante. 
Now, I don't need John in the line-up to enjoy a Chilis album - the first few albums with Hillel Slovak before Frusciante joined were great, as was One Hot Minute. 
The problem is that now John is gone, there is nothing to fill his place - Josh Klinghoffer doesn't bring any discernible charisma to the sound and this is painfully visible in the Look Around video (below) where each band member is in their own room filled with personal effects but Josh Klinghoffer, failing to introduce himself in one of the first videos he appears in, stands in a blank room and does nothing (with the camera even skipping over him to move onto someone more interesting!).
Mish-mash - Other than the lack of the glorious musical talents of Frusciante, the album also fails to offer a coherent sound to it. Several tracks are bland and instantly forgettable, blending into the latter half of the album without making a mark, which really lets the attention-grabbing early tracks down. If they were able to keep that pace going for the full 14 tracks, or if they could balance the album slightly so that it doesn't feel so lop-sided then this could have been a modern gem.

Conclusions.
I'm With You is certainly a good album. The problem is that when you are one of the biggest bands in the world, a "good" album just ain't good enough.
If this is the best the Chilis can muster without Frusciante, then I'd recommend that they pack it in. 
Just re-release the greatest hits every few years and we can remember the Chilis as the legends that they were.

Videos in this review are from Youtube and are kindly provided by:
http://www.youtube.com/user/RHCPtv and
http://www.youtube.com/user/PasquotankMusic

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