Friday, September 2, 2011

I'm With You

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are back with their first album in five years, and it's loud and very compressed. Think Metallica's Death Magnetic, also produced by Rick Rubin. Let's admit it, Rubin's one of the best modern producers in the business, but his recent records (excluding Johnny Cash) have been marred with substandard sound quality. Actually it has more to do with the final mastering than the producer or engineer, but still. Sometimes the songs are good enough that you ignore the irritation to your ears and get taken over by the music.

I'm With You ushers in the new era of the band. This is RHCP 2.0. It has been a hotly anticipated album, not only because they haven't made one in a while, but also the fact that they have a new member, guitarist Josh Klinghoffer. I don't wanna go so far as to say that the departure of John Frusciante has put a damp on the new songs, but it may seem rather evident to listeners, given that the guitars aren't as prominent as before. Here you don't get the Frusciante-type solos that defined the RHCP sound for more than a decade. But the new guitarist isn't trying to carry on from where Frusciante left off. He's bringing something fresh to the table; he may be slightly buried here, but I think he's really putting some new life into the band's signature funk rock sound. His background singing still takes some getting used to. In time he'll establish his own identity.

It's kind of a throwback record, with some new stuff added in, such as piano, trumpet, African influences. And the talented rhythm duo of Flea and Chad Smith has never been more solid, also Anthony Kiedis's singing, and I love it whenever he goes into his elementary middle-age white-man rap mode. As for his songwriting, it's always been a hit or miss for me, many times you'll get impressive rhyming and wordplay at the expense of unintelligible lyrics. Having said that, not much has changed on this album, but on the other hand there's melodic hooks aplenty. Personally I dig most of the songs upon first listen, except the first single The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie, which is kinda average. Highlights include Monarchy Of Roses, Did I Let You Know, Police Station and Even You Brutus?. But the immediate standout is Brendan's Death Song. I love me an epic tune about death. Can't wait to see 'em live again.