Album review: Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'I'm With You'
The yin and the yang of music and lyrics in rock is a complicated swirl, one within which the Red Hot Chili Peppers have struggled to find balance throughout their career. On the band's 10th studio album, and first with new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, longtime band mates Anthony Kiedis, Flea and Chad Smith create an album that's way stronger musically than it is lyrically.
But that's nothing new. Over the years they've ridden through the Hollywood Hills on saber-tooth horses, conversed with dolphins and witnessed first-born unicorns. This time Kiedis proposes to a lover like this: “Be my wife/ I think you're right/ we should mate.” Not the most romantic guy, is he?
The band has always made up for verbal shortcomings by going non sequitur and crazy, both lyrically and musically. There's no arguing with Flea, nor the rhythm section, nor the band's tastes in guitarists.
“I'm With You,” though, is a mishmash, lacks a center, and way too often feels duct-taped together from various points in the band's career. (Though “Monarch of Roses” may be their first disco song.) Nestled within the hour-long, 14-song album is an EP's worth of Peppers awesomeness, including “Brendan's Death Song,” one of the best of the band's career, and “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie,” which features a cowbell and a crazy midtrack breakdown.
The rest of it, though, is stuff that will probably sound just fine beneath NFL highlight reels but fails to gel when the volume is up and California 2011 beckons.
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-- Randall Roberts
Red Hot Chili Peppers
"I’m With You"
One and a half stars (Out of four)