By Troy Woodin
It’s been five long and quiet years since the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ last album, the double-disc Stadium Arcadium. In 2009, they lost guitarist John Frusciante, a split that was suspected to have ended the band. I feel I’m With You was an attempt to squeeze out what was left. I’m With You is the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ first record without John Frusciante since 1995’s turgid, Dave Navarro named One Hot Minute. A former tour understudy for Frusciante, new guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer blends in with a significantly more textural and less edgy style. The Red Hot Chilli Peppers have shown immense versatility over the years. Each of their albums in the past having a distinct tone. One of the most important things about I’m With You, is that it retains the classic groove that the Red Hot Chilli Peppers became renowned for.
The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and producer Rick Rubin ultimately could not fill the void left by Frusciante, whose invigorating, layered guitar work and maximalist dynamic defined 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. In all honesty I believe that the void left by Frusciante is a major issue to deal with. The fact is that some guitarists are irreplaceable.
I believe that Frusciante was one of those. Previous albums such as Stadium Arcadium and By the Way were more powerful because Frusciante was a unique sounding aspect that added to their previously wild and romantic dynamic. It seems as if I’m With You, is a relatively poor attempt at displaying how much gas may be left in the tank for them.
Lyrically I’m with you can be confusing as times. There aren’t many memorable lyrics from I’m with you. I felt that it was a rushed attempt to a decent album, and yes this is a decent album, but mediocrity is not what the Red Hot Chilli Peppers have been about all these years. However, there is still much appeal to this album if you are of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ funk persuasion. I’m with you is their funkiest album to date, and shows connection to their 1985 album, Freaky Styley.
Ultimately this is a decent album, but the point is that The Red Hot Chilli Peppers used to be about breaking the barrier and creating songs that flowed seamlessly. The reality is that nothing will stop me from attending their live concert in Cape Town early next year, but the point I’m making is that it will not be because of their recently released songs from I’m with you, but instead for all they have managed to get right over the years.