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Album Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘I’m With You’
Red Hot Chilli Peppers play it safe. Again.
Accomplished new axe-man Josh Klinghoffer, who is allowed to fire out some serious glam-rock hooks during lead single ‘The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie’, fits in a little too well; subtle and mostly restrained throughout, he screams ‘session musician’, though he’s the perfect foil for bassist Flea, who can now reveal the true extent of his megalomania. Adrenalised by guava smoothies and good Californian living, where he once drove the sound, he now rules like a crazed North African despot, and before long the album begins to resemble one long interlude from Seinfeld.
Anthony Kiedis is nothing if not consistent, his voice as assured and unmistakable as ever, and his lyrical vagaries as unfathomable as one has come to expect. On ‘Annie Wants A Baby’, a lesbian couple covet some of Anthony’s A-grade alpha seed, while on ‘Monarchy Of Roses’ he starts warbling bafflingly about “the holy tears of Ireland” and “the calicos of Pettibon”. The dichotomy of profundity/vacuity here is breathtakingly Bono-like.
There’s nothing as good as ‘Taste The Pain’ or ‘Give It Away’ here, though nothing as loathsome as ‘Love Rollercoaster’ either. Mutterings of unbridled experimentation were sadly just rumours. The very fact long-time collaborator Rick Rubin is at the helm is proof enough that while the production is mostly immaculate, ‘I’m With You’ is an exercise in how a multi-million selling rock behemoth plays it safe.
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