Review: I’m With You

Posted: September 10, 2011 in Reviews

"I'm With You," the Red Hot Chili Peppers' first album since 2006's "Stadium Arcadium" (I do not own this image)

Rumors of a new album from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, one of the most versatile and influential rock bands, have been circulating the music world since late 2008.  However, the band lineup changed once again: guitarist John Frusciante, who Rolling Stone called the 18th best guitarist ever, departed from the band for the second time.  His good friend, Josh Klinghoffer, replaced him in 2009 and the Chilis immediately began work on I’m With You, which hit the shelves on August 29th, 2011.

Hold on: let’s just take a moment…

OH MY GOD! A NEW RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS ALBUM! YESSSSSS!!!!

And it does not disappoint: I’m With You is fun, catchy and uplifting from start to finish!

Monarchy of Roses:   “Monarchy” kicks off with sounds of the band warming up before the song begins.  This gives the album a live and really personal feel from the first moment, which is something to really look for in music.  The distortion on singer Anthony Kidiedis’ vocals is a little annoying, though the fantastic chorus makes it all worthwhile.

Factory of Faith: A pretty good example of what the Chili Peppers sound like now, “Factory of Faith” places bassist Michael “Flea” Balzary at the front of the track.  The song is certainly catchy, but completely throws the listener off when the techno outro drops.  The last 35 seconds of the song are an album highlight.  It’s nice to see the Chilis embracing the newly-popular genre without overwhelming their songs with it.

Brendan’s Death Song: Although the song’s title is a little abrupt, the lyrics are really beautiful and Keidis sings them with such passion.  Building a song to an explosion so listeners feel the full effect is really difficult and the band does that perfectly on “Brendan’s Death Song.”

From left: guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, bassist Flea, drummer Chad Smith, singer Anthony Keidis (I do not own this image)

Ethiopia:  “Ethiopia,” one of the best songs on the album, starts with a tremendous bassline by Flea, quickly joined by funky keyboards.  This isn’t drummer Chad Smith’s favorite on the album for no reason.

Annie Wants a Baby: “Annie” cannot be called a bad song, because nothing on I’m With You is anywhere near bad but it is one of the weaker songs on the album.  The chorus is pretty catchy, though.

Look Around: This is the best song on the album:  it sounds like a classic Chilis song with a good riff and music and Keidis’ unmistakable rap-singing.  2 minutes and 24 seconds into “Look Around” marks the best chunk on I’m With You: Chad Smith lays a beat and Kedis raps randomly—the band joins in for a powerful bridge.  Who else could that be aside from the Red Hot Chili Peppers?

The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie:  Give the lead single a few listens before judging it: it WILL grow on you, mainly thanks to the unbeatably catchy chorus and bass-line.  The opening beat is absolutely recognizably Chili-esque and the song, although it is a bit mellower than some of their other singles, sounds very familiar to longtime fans.

Did I Let You Know: Chad Smith’s monster beat crashes through in the first moments of the song and guitarist.  Josh Klinghoffer soon joins with impressive electric guitar noodling and astonishingly good vocals.  Also look out for Flea’s terrific trumpet solo.  He really shines on this album.

Unbeknownst to many, Flea is also a talented trumpet player (I do not own this image)

Goodbye Hooray: What would a Chili Peppers album be without a jammy, fast-paced explosion?  Gotta’ love that bass solo!

Happiness Loves Company: Flea gets to show off his new knowledge of theory and piano with this solid piano groove, but the overall song isn’t the best on the album.

Police Station: Wow, is this a beauty.  “Police Station” is pure poetry and one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ prettiest songs.  The piano interlude and guitar solo give this song even more “umph.”

Chad Smith has been pushing the levels of funk drumming since he started playing (I do not own this image)

Even You Brutus?: This piano driven song is a solid competitor for the “best song” title and is terrific from the quiet opening.  Treasure Keidis’ ‘riled-up preacher-ish shouting: you probably will never again hear anything so breathtaking.  This is another song with a ton of umph.  Realistically, the whole album has a lot of umph.

Meet Me at the Corner:  “Meet Me at the Corner” is another pretty ballad, but unlike “Brendan’s Death Song” does not “build-up,” per se, which is not necessarily a bad thing.  Both Klinghoffer and Keidis’ vocals are perfect.

Dance, Dance, Dance: “Give yourself a chance to find a way,” Keidis sings. “Dance, dance, dance,” which is not a cover of the Beach Boy’s hit of the same title, demonstrates the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ sheer tenacity through hardship and pain, feelings that resonate throughout both the album and the recent lives of the band-members.

Many fans hate both  I’m With You and the new direction the Chili Peppers are taking.  However, the album maintains a very familiar feel and although it may not be the band’s #1 album, it certainly ranks highly.

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