Monday, 5 September 2011

Red Hot Chili Peppers - I'm With You

Does What It Says On The Chili Tin

After the wail and screech intro of new axeman Josh Klinghoffer on opener Monarchy of Roses, it's business as usual as the Chilis break into their trademark melodic rock. The guitar distortion rails through the whole track laying harder rock foundations, as well as Klinghoffer's own after the departure of John Frusciante.

As well as glowing, there have been negative and indifferent reviews to this latest album I'm With You, but for me it is wonderfully predictable stuff. This is sing-along-in-the-car fare, AOR in its melodic anthems and rap-friendly interludes. It that's too tame then you're looking in the wrong place, and can't have been listening to previous hit albums that transcended their earliest raw if bludgeoning work.

This patent mark is stamped emotively in third track Brendan's Death Song, a tribute to friend Bendan Mullen, where the acoustic opening and solo vocal leads into a classic harmony-infused chorus like I said you know I'm almost dead you know I'm almost gone [which you will be singing within one listen] that rises throughout the song on the back of Chad Smith's rolling drums and Flea's dramatic bass lines to a rousing crescendo.

This is followed by the equally distinctive sound of Ethiopia with its jaunty funk bass lines and hypnotic if meaningless hook ee ii oo ii ee ii aa, another line to mimic instantly, your whole body moving uncontrollably to the tight rhythms and sustained coolness. Punctuating electronic beats lead out to a single slow chord ending, before moving onto fifth track Annie Wants a Baby, with pounding bass line, Anthony Keidis vocal platform, sweet harmonies - and we're off on the production line hand-crafting its quality brand. Sixth track Look Around has the familiar rap core wrapped by harmonies and fast-scat lines. Glorious.


  1. Very much enjoy your writing, but i have to disagree on this one. I never understood how this band got quite so successful, in my opinion they've rarely been anything other than utter crap. The last talent they had left the band after the previous album, namely guitarist John Frusciante. If you're interested in devouring some more music, I'd thoroughly recommend his solo album 'To Record Only Water For Ten Days.' I'd be interested to know what you think of it, one of my favourites, which is odd since as i've stated, i'm no Chili's fan. Keep writing, cheers.

  2. Hello Pete - pleased you enjoy the writing.

    Is it the 'melodic/AOR' sound you dislike? I can understand those put off by this - as I've written often in this blog, I like 'pretty' music and thus like the Chili's harmony hooks etc. I tend to prefer my compilation of these...

    Listened to one Frusciante - can't remember which - and don't recall being that grabbed. However, I'll definitely listen to your recommendation, and appreciate the advice. I'll also definitely make a comment on this. Take care.

  3. No, not the AOR side of it. Boston's debut would be in my '50,' and i like a bit of Kansas and Toto. My problem with the Chilis is twofold:

    1. Anthony Kiedis's lack of vocal range. Unless you're someone whose voice is drenched in personality (Tom Waits, Bowie, basically any of the guys you've written about!), there really is no excuse to not be able to sing well as a mega-successful recording artist. The one octave he can sing in is fine, but don't get me started on his scatting!

    2. The slap-funk bass. I realise the Chilis roots are in the clubs of early 80's L.A when they were a very energetic, loud, almost 'funk metal' band. But i just hate the sound of it. Personal preference/prejudice.

    As an aside, can you think of a single new (or newer) band that seem to have the Chilis as an influence? I think you'd be hard pressed. Fans of music tend to hate them. Yes, i am a snob!

  4. Well Pete, I trust we can retain our respectful difference of opinion: I've tried 'To Record...' and it doesn't work for me, at all. Frusciante is a fine guitar player, but he ain't no singer and I found the material badly affected by this ['Fallout', to these ears, is dreadful]. Songwriting seems mediocre to me, but perhaps a proper vocalist would have improved? Agree with what you say about Kiedis' vocal - it certainly isn't one of the great voices, and though I've never seen the Chilis live, on recordings of live performances his vocal is the element that struggles.

    I'd only be aggrieved if the comment 'fans of music tend to hate them' meant you feel there is the potential for some purist notion of preference. I'm a 'fan' of music - and learning all the time, thus the work and research on this blog - yet I like them! BUT it is just opinion. I don't see you as a music 'snob' for not liking them, whatever the reasons.

  5. No disrespect intended! I just thought the Chilis jarred somewhat against some of the artists you'd written about before. I guess we could all do with broadening our musical palettes a little!

    Sorry you didn't like the album. I think the opening track is very good, and i like the overall 'feel' of the record, but maybe the songs themselves are a bit half-formed. I just really like his guitar work, and believe it or not, his vocals! Apples and oranges i guess.

    Keep up the good work, and i especially look forward to any more 'current' acts you feel deserving of a write-up.

  6. None taken and I appreciate the interchange.