3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Guys, I'm with you...
, 2 Sept. 2011
This review is from: I'm With You (Audio CD)
This was obviously a long-awaited return to music for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Personally, I'm very impressed with it, but that's because I think Flea's basslines are among the best, Chad Smith's drumming is groovy and Anthony Kiedis' singing / rapping is smooth. There is just one missing link though...
...People are criticising this album because the guitar of Josh Klinghoffer isn't as prominent as JF's was. But hey, you know what? Get used to it, it doesn't mean it's a bad album. Far from it in all honesty. It's excellent.
Opener 'Monarchy of Roses' starts frantically and then Smith's drumming, Flea's heavy bass and Kiedis' distorted vocals turn into a smooth, grand bridge as Klinghoffer brings his guitaring in. This concept works. Klinghoffer isn't a bad guitarist, he's excellent - but the problem is that he's got such huge boots to fill. Give him time. He's been touring with the Chilis for ages so he's well aware of their style and their sound. This song is so groovy, but the stand out musician is Flea with his punchy, funky, groovy basslines. Klinghoffer's backing vocals are similar to JF in the way that it's quite falsetto in its method.
The second track, 'Factory of Faith' is awesome as well - it's a strong start to a very good album. One thing that stands out for me on this album as a whole is the rhythm section - Flea and Smith are so tight, and Klinghoffer plays his part too. I think what people forget is that he isn't such an extrovert as JF was but you know he's there and he's doing great.
'Brendan's Death Song' is track three and is a tribute to their biographer, Brendan Mullen. I love this song, it's very personal and a great song. The Chilis are fortunate to even be here today with all the problems they've had and who can blame them for creating an album that's a bit darker? I love this song.
Track four, 'Ethiopia' is more in the vein of classic Chilis (more in the late 90s ethos), unlike the 'One Hot Minute' feel of the opening few tracks. This is pretty groovy, pretty funky and Flea steps up to the plate along with Kiedis. Again Klinghoffer's backing vocals are impressive.
'Annie Wants a Baby' is track five, and is probably the weakest track on offer on the album. It's a bit bland to be honest and lacks a spark - it's a word I hate to use but I'd call it a filler track.
Compare it with the follower, 'Look Around' which is the complete opposite, you know from the off it's good. Kiedis is on top form here and although the chorus could be more imaginative, the verses are great and the middle-eight is a bit of a curveball but it works. Not the best song but miles better than the previous one.
'The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie' is an unusual choice for a first single as it's pushing five minutes, but 'Dani California' was a similar time and no-one complained then. This sounds fresh and funky as the Chilis' should be. Again Smith and Flea are the centrepiece of what makes this song tick. This album sure has its moments and this is sure one of them. Give the album time and it will grow on you. I love this song.
'Did I Let You Know' begins the second half of the album, and it's excellent. It's on songs like this that Klinghoffer's guitaring begins to make sense. It's more understated than JF ever was but the style is awesome. Hell, this song even has a horns section throw in for good measure. Smith is an excellent drummer and this is one of his finest songs he drums on on the album. This song is groovy and everything comes together brilliantly. This should be a single.
'Goodbye Hooray' is excellent and is very high-energy. This keeps a bit of the 'Blood Sugar Sex Magik' sound and refines it. The chorus is big, the bass is booming and the vocals are so smooth. The music is so tight here as you'd expect. Kiedis is on fire vocally and the rest are in sync musically. Top track. This is a strong second half to the album.
'Happiness Loves Company' starts with a keyboard riff and booming drums. This is RHCP but a bit different. This adds more variety and a more mature sound (yes even from a band recording their 10th studio album!) This is a bit different, but retains that unmistakeable RHCP sound. It's good stuff.
This is one of my favourite songs on the album. 'Police Station' starts slowly enough, but you know it's a classic in the making. It takes me back to the sound of 'Californication', that laid-back feel of something between 'Scar Tissue' and 'Californication'. This is where Klinghoffer comes into his own, out of the shadow and it's about time. The sound is layered and smooth. Rick Rubin has worked his magic as usual with the guys this time around. I love the piano section that Klinghoffer plays, kicks in around three minutes in, and returns with the huge guitar in the final minute, it adds something different. It's one of the highlights of the album for me, for sure.
'Even You Brutus?' starts with the keys once more before a funk/hip-hop beat carries the verses along with Kiedis' words. Klinghoffer is pretty prominent here as well (not always on guitar but on the keys and throughout with his immaculate backing vocals). This second half of the album is proving better than the first - it's a much darker feel here than at the start with the piano riffs used. This is a great song. Most bands would kill to have album tracks like this.
'Meet Me at the Corner' is the penultimate track and it slows things down considerably. It's some sort of a ballad I suppose, the only one apart from 'Brendan's Death Song' but it fits in nicely just before the end - Kiedis and Klinghoffer sing brilliantly in harmony, their voices suit each other. Klinghoffer has a great voice and he sings the middle-eight well.
As you would imagine, the album finishes on an up-tempo number, and 'Dance, Dance, Dance' finishes things off very well. This is a great song to finish things off. It's not exceptional but it's very good.
You can split the album into two parts - the first seven tracks and the last seven tracks. In the first half the standout musicians are Flea and Smith as they keep the rhythm section ticking brilliantly, and it's the second half where Kiedis and Klinghoffer's harmonies and Klinghoffer's keys and riffs come to the fore. It's something that works and I'm sure when the next album's out the boys will be a more complete unit.
It's always tough for a new musician to join such a tight unit, but Klinghoffer has the makings of the ideal replacement. He's not there quite yet but he's a great vocalist, adds a different dimension with the keyboards and most importantly he's a great guitarist. It wasn't too difficult for him to slot in as he was the RHCP's touring guitarist anyway. He's slightly different to JF as anyone would be, such a great guitarist is a huge loss but what JF lost Klinghoffer can gain.
Just give Klinghoffer time, and give this album time. It's a very impressive album and deserves your attention. It's been a while in the making but it's worth it.
Apart from 'Annie Wants a Baby' which is a filler, this is a very impressive album. Those expecting 'By the Way II' or 'Californication II' don't bother, but this is a different direction for RHCP and we should embrace the (slight) change as the sound is still unmistakeably RHCP.
I can't get enough of it, and I think Klinghoffer will be a massive success.
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