After a five year self-imposed exile, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have made their return to music with their 10th studio album, “I’m With You.”
While die-hard fans of the band are no doubt excited to see the funk rockers from Southern California make their return, the Chili Peppers latest unfortunately comes off as a scatterbrained mess of ideas that is not quite sure what it is trying to be.
Right away there are some new changes to the band that separate this album from previous Chili Peppers releases.
Longtime guitarist and back-up vocalist John Frusciante has left the band, replaced by newcomer Josh Klinghofer.
Frusciante’s absence brings a change in the dynamics of the group as they work to find positives that come with a new member and craft a much leaner and more immediate album than their 2006 double-disc opus “Stadium Arcadium.”
Ironically, most of those numerous attempts may be the albums downfall.
That is not to say that this album is without high points. “ Meet Me at the Corner,” with its unique tonal shifts and melodies, is the perfect showcase for what Klinghofer’s guitar playing brings to the table.
“Ethiopia,” featuring very catchy vocals with syllable-delivery, is sure to attract longtime fans of the Chili Peppers and shows lead singer Anthony Kiedis’ vocal delivery is still strong notwithstanding a five year absence.
With its healthy build up and interesting instrumentation, “Brendan’s Death Song” is easily the stand out on this album and really shows what this new line up is capable of.
However, for every high point on this album, there are just as many, if not more, low points.
While Kiedis’ vocals are one of the key things this album has going for it, there is a disconnect between his delivery and the quality of his lyrics. This disconnect can be particularly heard on “Rain Dance Maggie” and “Dance, Dance, Dance.”
That complaint, though, is minor compared to my biggest issue with “I’m With You.”
Be it the hand claps in the background or the harmony vocals, there are a lot of random instances that contribute to the album’s disjointedness.
I’m all for a band trying new things, but this album goes in so many directions that it is hard to get into a groove with it.
The odd moments of self-indulgence, from the opening distortion on “Monarchy of Roses” to the bossa nova to the piano ballads, certainly do not help the cause either.
These parts feel so odd and detached from the album, that one has to wonder why they were included in the first place.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are back and there are plenty of moments, fleeting as they may be, where it feels like their momentum is back as well.
However, that momentum consistently falls short of so many of the bands previous efforts.
Had this been a more focused and concise record, perhaps the results would have been different.
Many die-hard Chili Peppers fans may appreciate the amount of variety here, but for the rest, this album is too all-over-the-place for a full recommendation.
Julian Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.