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Album Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘I’m With You’


Over the years in the life span of RHCP, guitarists have come and gone. One of the most memorable and most possibly influential guitarists who has recently left the band, was John Frusciante. Recently made No. 72 in the Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarist list, it could be argued that he gave the Chili’s their definitive sound. However, although Frusciante left the band in previous years during a rough patch, this time, he left on a positive note of developing his solo career, and the band respected that. Frusciante’s replacement, Josh Klinghoffer was introduced to the public in January of 2010 when the band performed for the first time with the new line up at the MusiCares event in the same year. After taking a hiatus of about three years, the Chili’s finally announced their comeback to the world, and after hitting the studio and creating up to 70 songs (though most were purely experimental), they released their brand new album – ‘I’m With You in August 2011.

The album artwork, created by Damien Hirst is of a fly sitting on a pill that reads ‘I’m With You’. The artwork itself can be interpreted in many ways, and I believe that the meaning of this artwork is that that pill, which symbolises the debasement of drugs and drug abuse, is highlighted by the fact that an insect, something that is considered disgusting, is actually sat on this pill. I believe the work in general stresses the degrading nature of drugs as Kiedis himself stated that this album has more of a positive theme as opposed to their previous albums. Nonetheless, there is a slight ambiguity in the art as the title ‘I’m With You, suggesting that narcotics offer a supportive nature and lead the audience to question whether the band have actually turned a new leaf.

As the first album to feature Klinghoffer, it is the first time we see his true skills as a guitarist – songs such as ‘Monarchy of Roses and ‘Dance, Dance, Dance feature great guitar riffs, both memorable and catchy in their own way. Earlier this year, Flea studied music at university level, and developed his passion for the piano – this new found talent and passion can be heard immediately. ‘Happiness Loves Company is an example of Flea’s great skills as a pianist and musician and it gives the Chili’s a style that they’ve never had before. Even Kiedis is on form in this album; his lyrics have a level of meaning and emotion that left me shocked how he had never wrote like this before. ‘Police Station is a great example of Kiedis’ new lyricism and yes, I am saying this, but it just might be the new ‘Under the Bridge. I personally love this album; it is full of great melodies and riffs that cannot instantly be identified as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, is this the sign of a new, matured sound from the ageing rockers?

However, and there is one big however – The album seems to be lacking something; there’s some sort of void. Frusciante was the driving force that gave the Red Hot Chili Peppers their amazing sound and some of their biggest hits, and since that force is gone, it doesn’t really seem the same. There is no potential hit song in this album, they all seem to be songs that have potential, but are not quite there yet. As much as I love this album, I don’t believe that it was worth fans waiting almost five years for.

Music Bloggery Recommends: ‘Factory of Faith’, ‘Dance Dance Dance’, ‘Happiness Loves Company’, ‘Annie Wants A Baby’, ‘Did I Let You Know?’, ‘Look Around’ and ‘Police Station’

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