Review Summary: The Chili Peppers release another album. Yeah.
For all intents and purposes, I’m With You
probably shouldn’t even exist. Even die-hard fans must have been skeptical of an iteration of the Red Hot Chili Peppers without John Frusciante, the band’s long-time guitarist and an accomplished singer/songwriter in his own right. For the past decade or so, Frusciante’s been the one sign of life from this rapidly-aging band, to the point where it’s hard to imagine By the Way
or Stadium Arcadium
being halfway listenable without his considerable input.
Yet, as badly as this bodes for the Chili Peppers, I’m With You
is still surprisingly solid, featuring some of the band’s catchiest songs to date. However, it doesn’t exactly make case for the band to continue onwards, either. There’s little to no progression to be found here; the Chili Peppers spend the entirety of the album recapitulating their distinct but boilerplate sound, treading comfortably, spitting out one mid-tempo funk-rock song after another. There literally isn’t a song here that doesn’t sound like it was recorded during the latter years of the Frusciante era.
So, essentially, the remaining Chili Peppers and new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer have perfected duplicating themselves circa-2006. And that’s fine. Because, while I was and still am disappointed that I’m With You
is a rehash, I do still enjoy listening to Stadium Arcadium
from time to time, and I thusly enjoy listening to this (if less so). Songs like “Brandon’s Death Song” and “Police Station” are catchy enough, progressing from relatively subdued, acoustically-led verses to rousing, anthemic choruses. Meanwhile, “Look Around” and “Goodbye Hooray” are funky and fun, as is the driving and irresistibly infectious “Did I Let You Know,” complete with “Hump de Bump”-esque trumpet solos and Klinghoffer doing a hell of a job mimicking Frusciante’s signature falsetto harmonies.
So, yeah, I like listening to this album a bit. But this is strictly as a long-time Chili Peppers fan. If you already hate the band, I’m With You
won’t change your mind: vocalist Anthony Keidis’s lyrics, always a sticking point, are as inane as ever, and the instrumentation is still rather kitschy and self-serving, especially concerning Flea’s hyperactive bass playing.
But, at this point, all that doesn’t really bother me. And what I guess I’m trying to say is that if all that doesn’t bother you either, then I’m With You
’s worth picking up. For while it doesn’t stake any new ground or fix any old flaws, it sure doesn’t create any new ones, and it is certainly fun to listen to. And I guess that’s all that matters.
And while I may appreciate this album despite some of its fundamental flaws, I’m still not exactly clamoring for another Chili Peppers record. As stated before, I’m With You
doesn’t suggest a future for the band: instead, it showcases one stuck in the mud, capable of churning its wheels but not moving forward. The Red Hot Chili Peppers need to end, plain and simple. Maybe get Keidis to release some solo records, or maybe someone can get a movie made where drummer Chad Smith and Will Ferrell play actual brothers. That’s something I could get a little more excited for.