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I'm With You
New chili peppers line-up treads carefully on band’s 10th studio album.
Craig Fitzpatrick, 29 Aug 2011
You look at the track-listing and you shift a little uneasily in your seat. ‘Annie Wants A Baby’. ‘Police Station’. Then there’s the first single – the somewhat anaemic ‘The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie’. There is a sense of things being ill-considered right from the ‘let’s name the songs’ band meeting. You note the introduction of Josh Klinghoffer on guitar and the departure of the mercurial, prodigal John Frusciante and you feel a hint of despair, thinking back to Frusciante’s first departure and the resulting metallic nightmare that was One Hot Minute with Dave Navarro on the six-string. You could be forgiven for looking at I’m With You and wondering: is there a point?
Really, though, you’d be wrong to think like that: now in their third decade of existence, the Chilis deserve better. A band of survivors, boasting no small amount of Californian talent, at their finest they are capable of hitting the kind of vertiginous heights few other modern acts ever approach. We owe them an unprejudiced ear at least...
And so it proves. While it is no Red Hot masterpiece, even shorn of John Frusciante’s fantastic creative foil, Anthony, Flea and Chad manage to conjure up some of the old Chili magic on their tenth studio album. They also maintain an admirable base-line of quality that they never dip below. Single aside, there are no duds here.
It is a curious record. On the face of it, there are no immediate stand-outs fit to rub shoulders with the band’s previous classics. For the most part, Anthony Kiedis sticks to the tried and tested, with half the choruses reliant on the ‘hey oh’ line he’s been retailing since the epoch-making Californication. Nor is he doing anything to challenge Leonard Cohen in the lyrical stakes. You occasionally feel like egging him on, to break free and do something fresh and unexpected.
Nonetheless, it is impressive how the old, reliable rhythm section of Flea and Chad Smith continues to mature and to improve. It’s notable that so many of these songs start with a bass line or funk-fuelled drum beat. These guys know what they are at and they keep things smart and rhythmically compelling throughout.