Iím With You

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Warner Brothers, 2011


REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


I am unequivocally in love with this album. This is saying a lot, because I can be flighty when it comes to love, particularly when it’s something as important as albums. But one listen through, I’m With You had already secured a spot in my top 10 of the year. Ten listens later, it’s a top contender for best album of the year. It’s strange, because my expectations for the disc were pretty minimal. The last Red Hot Chili Peppers album, 2006’s Stadium Arcadium, was undoubtedly solid, but double albums are always a tough thing. But casting a bigger blow to the fate of the Chili Peppers was guitarist John Frusciante’s departure in 2007. Frusciante’s guitar sound is legendary, pure and distinctive and raw, and before listening to I’m With You, I would have said that any line-up without him would be noticeably lacking.

But now I’m eating my words. I’m With You is the tightest, most resonant – dare I say best – album in the RHCP’s storied career. From the ferocious guitar and drum assault that opens with “Monarchy Of Roses,” followed by Anthony Kiedis’ murky vocals and signature wordplay, the disc will hook you in the band’s funky, melodic universe. It’s a great opener, setting the stage for what’s to come – seamless tonal shifts, the fierce interplay between Flea’s bass, Chad Smith’s drumming, and new addition Josh Klinghoffer on guitars.  Frusciante’s departure is only felt in the sense that the guitar riffs are no longer the huge, dominating force of the band’s sound.  But somehow, that turns out to be the perfect thing.  All four members sound wonderfully in sync, vibing off each other and creating a disc that’s greater than the sum of its parts. It makes every note sound vital and urgent. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

These days, it tends to be tough for me to find an album where every track is truly top-notch. I’m With You does just that. “Factory Of Faith” is a stomping rocker with swirls of guitar, “Ethiopia” has a tongue-in-cheek flair to it that reminds me of early RHCP, paired with a soaring, gorgeous refrain (“Tell my boy I love him so / Tell him so he knows”), and first single “Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie” manages to make a line like “Tick-tock I want to rock you like the eighties / Cock-blocking isn’t allowed” sound charming and catchy.

But the absolute standout of the album is “Brendan’s Death Song.” I’d say it’s the best song the Chili Peppers have recorded since “Under The Bridge, and it’s destined to be a high point of their career. Dedicated to longtime friend of the band Brendan Mullen of The Masque, this cut is truly stunning, morphing from a mellow, heartfelt ballad to a full-out cacophony of sound. It’s part death march, part buoyant celebration of life, and every line is just achingly beautiful. Strangely, though, the moment that I find most amazing and haunting is a wordless one – during the bridge, as the instrumentation crashes and gallops around him, Kiedis repeatedly cries “Yeah, yeah!,” his voice capturing the gamut of emotion that emblemizes this song. I can’t praise “Brendan’s Death Song” enough, so just give it a listen for yourself!

When speaking about this album, the band repeatedly made statements that the new lineup of the Chili Peppers was a whole new start for the band, and that really comes through on the music here. There are elements of vintage Chili Peppers, from the signature alliterative funkiness of Kiedis’ lyrics, to the raw, propulsive instrumentation. But there’s also a feeling of newness to I’m With You, the sense that the four members came together and really fleshed out their collective vision. From the toe-tapping pep of “Happiness Loves Company” (hope this one ends up being the second single) to the lyrical depth of “Police Station” (the Chili Peppers have always been excellent at carving out visceral tales of flawed characters), there’s something that will draw everyone into this release

I suppose it’s clear by now that I adore this album. It feels familiar and fresh all at the same time. Each time I spin it, I find some new track that I’m in love with, some new depth to a song that I didn’t notice the first time around. Let I’m With You do the same for you, and I can assure you won’t regret it.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2011 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers, and is used for informational purposes only.