By Iain Kendrick
Formed in Los Angeles in 1983, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are a rock band whose music comes with a strong emphasis on funk, punk and psychedelic rock.
The group shot to fame with their 1991 album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik. This album, as well as Californication, have ranked in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest albums of all time.
Though fraught with drug problems, one of the original band members dying and some coming and going, the band has made their mark as one of the greatest rock bands of all time, winning seven Grammy Awards and having sold over 80 million albums worldwide. In 2012 they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Anthony Kiedis and Michael ‘Flea’ Balzary are the only two founding members left in the band, plus the long-time drummer Smith and new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer.
The 10th Red Hot Chili Peppers album, I’m with you, opens on the rumbling sounds of a band tuning up for a jam, its first in a long time. The noise then blooms into a Californication-type inferno called “Monarchy of Roses”.
It’s been five quiet years since the Chili Peppers’ last album, Stadium Arcadium, released in 2009. This is due to the fact that they lost original guitarist John Frusciante, a split that might’ve ended the band. But ‘I’m With You’ pulls the band back together with the help of new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer.
Flea says he revisited his Rolling Stones records while writing the lyrics for ‘I’m With You’. The Chili Peppers couldn’t fill the void left by Frusciante, his amazing guitar work was what helped define their recent albums. Instead, they’ve gone back to the essentials of the freaky-styley funk punk that Kiedis, Flea and drummer Chad Smith invented. They are the type of songs that open up into grand, sunny pop-type choruses.
New guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who’s worked with Beck and Gnarls Barkley, is well suited for giving old tricks new shape. He’s textured and elusive, layering riffs and melodies where Frusciante burned solos.
This isn’t just a musical re-ignition – the Chili Peppers are recharging emotionally too. Another loss that haunts the album is the recent death of their close friend, L.A. club owner Brendan Mullen. “Brendan’s Death Song” begins as an acoustic elegy “You’ll know it’s your jam, it’s your goodbye,” Kiedis almost whispers, then gets Nirvana-loud as Kiedis stares down his own mortality. The soft, intimate song “Police Station” follows an old lover through the Hollywood ringer, and doubles as a mirror for his own L.A. story.
All in all a great, well rounded album that will keep the fans happy.