First Listen – Red Hot Chili Peppers, ‘I’m With You’

A disclaimer: I am not a fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers. NME’s pesky Reviews Editor caught me offguard this morning when she asked if I was busy. I said no. Then came one of the most terrifying sentences I have ever heard.

“You’ll have time to do a First Listen on the new Chili Peppers album, then, right?”

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Me: “Bu… bu… bu… but… Aren’t those blogs supposed to be for the diehards, a tantalising and informative glimpse of an album they are absolutely dying to hear? Rather than just me ripping the arse out of it?”

Her: “Well, they’re streaming it now on iTunes. The fans will already have heard it, so you don’t need to focus on info as much. Plus, you never know, you might like it.”

This is unlikely. But I would urge any Chili Peppers fans not to waste the next ten minutes of their lives reading this and then commenting that I should be fired/get a haircut, etc. Stop reading, go to the park and fly a kite. This one’s going to be solely for the (hopeful) amusement of the haters.

Probably. I mean, I am going to try. I’m not one of these people who hates bands because they’re massive. I LOVE bands who are massive! And I’m partial to a bit of funk. And I quite liked it when Flea sang a snippet of this at Live Earth. If I’m pushed, I didn’t mind a couple of tracks off the album when they were pretending to be The Strokes.

Anyway, here we go…

Im With You

‘Monarchy Of Roses’
As you might expect from that title, starts off as a big, blustering rock song then goes into a Blondie ‘Atomic’ thing, then goes back to big rock bluster. Actually not as offensive as I feared it would be.

‘Factory Of Faith’
Unlike this, which is everything that I and a significant proportion of the globe despise about the Chilli Peppers in a neat four-minute package. I.e. It sounds like it came out of “a jam”, and features that trademark muscular funk and the sort-of-rapped vocals that lead into a laconic chorus. Awful, awful wah-wah over a disco beat at the end. The opening line is: “All my life I was swinging for the fence / I was looking for the triple / Never playing good defence”. Translation: “You, little people, could never understand what it’s like to be me. I am one crazy-ass motherfucker”.

‘Brendan’s Death Song’
Ballad. Starts with an acoustic guitar, builds to something bigger, drops to Anthony Kleidis singing over and over, “Like I said you know I’m almost dead, you know I’m almost gone”. Best one so far, but still not great.

I’m sorry, I’m trying here, but this is absolutely abhorrent. I just cannot understand how they play this sort of aimless rock-funk in the rehearsal room, and no-one goes, “Um, this sounds a bit like what we’ve done before, no?” Too many yes people, I guess. And that title! And he actually spells it out in that violently annoying skat-rap voice!

‘Annie Wants A Baby’
Sounds unfinished, this one – aimless. Reminds me a bit of ‘You’re So Right’ off The Strokes album, and that is not a compliment. Maybe it’s a grower, but I will never know.

‘Look Around’
NO. NO. NO. NO! A shit-funk sandwich, with a side order of unbelievably dated LA I-go-to-rehab-every-time-I-break-a-toenail bullshit. Look up the lyrics. The opening line is “Strip club, it’s my nature”, and it doesn’t get much better after that.

‘The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie’
The single, so you’ve probably heard it. Has a cowbell. I’m going for a cigarette, as I fear this post is about to descend into a vicious farce.

‘Did I Let You Know’
Ohhh, hang on! Mariachi trumpets, something approaching an actual groove rather than just aimless funk, and a melody that is actually quite sweet, especially when he sings, “I like the sound of your articulation”.

‘Goodbye Hooray’
It’s the bass, still, that is largely responsible for making people hate this band. This is a fairly acceptable, straight ahead rock song, then in the middle there’s a preposterously fast, phased-bass solo that makes me look at how many more tracks of this shite I’ve got to get through. Five. Please stay with me. I can’t do this alone.


‘Happiness Loves Company’
If you can imagine The Red Hot Chili Peppers doing Blur’s ‘Sunday, Sunday’, you’ve imagined this.

‘Police Station’
Another slowie, which hopefully at least means no bass solos. To be fair to Anthony Kleidis, he can write a nice melody, of which this is one. At least the verses are. The chorus is a bit naff, but this is by miles the best tune on here so far.

‘Even You, Brutus?’
Featuring a weird, spooky piano intro that moves into a song that someone here has quite accurately said “sounds like fucking Razorlight”. Again, not a compliment, but it builds into a rawk knees-up sort of thing that they probably think sounds like the Stones, but doesn’t.

‘Meet Me At The Corner’
Super-slowie, again aided significantly by the minimal prescence of Flea and his horrilbly trebly bass guitar. Starting to think that the Chilis should do an album with just acoustic guitar and singing.

‘Dance, Dance, Dance’
I’ve never made it to the end of a Chili Peppers album before, but I’d always assumed they’d be a Grand Finale type of band, and was thus anticipating a gargantuan tan muscle-funk workout, so it’s quite a surprise that this is actually a nice understated, atmospheric groove. If I had, at gunpoint, to go back and listen to a tune off this album again, I’d go for this one.

Red Hot Chilis

The Verdict
As horrible as expected, with a couple of redeeming moments if, like me, you were actively, desperately searching for positives. Still, will doubtless sell zillions to people who must exist, even though I’ve never met one of them.

Stream Red Hot Chili Peppers’ ‘I’m With You’ Here

Photo Gallery – 50 Things You Never Knew About Red Hot Chili Peppers

What do you think of the new album?