The Red Hot Chili Peppers are timeless. The group has been active since 1983, and although they’ve gone through good times and bad, they’re still beloved for making good music and for being themselves (which means slightly crazy, very spontaneous, and frequently nonsensical). It’s not too common that a band will sound pretty much the same decade after decade and still sound fresh, but RHCP have aged with grace.
The band’s tenth studio album, I’m With You, comes five whole years after their last release, amidst news of a potential breakup, a new guitarist, and now a new tour. I for one am very happy they’ve worked things out and finally have some new material.
How does the album stack up? It picks up where their last album left off, with catchy hooks, fun/random lyrics, typical Rick-Rubin overproduction, and some nice tracks. The most noticeable difference in the album is the guitar. Longtime guitarist John Frusciante left the band, and a younger Josh Klinghoffer replaces the master at lead guitar.
I wouldn’t say it’s a bad thing, but the former and current guitarists have different styles. Klinghoffer has a much more subdued playing style, almost complementing the music, as opposed to Frusciante’s licks and chops. Overall, the album has a good mix of typical high-energy Chili Peppers songs, plus some slightly more mellow ballads.
What I love about the Chili Peppers is that they embody California. Every time I listen to them, I picture Venice Beach, LA, and the places I visited in my childhood. It’s a nostalgic feeling, and it reminds me that California, despite its problems, is still a place to chill, grow, and have fun.
Overall, a satisfying RHCP album. I’m glad that they’re still going strong after all these years, and I look forward to more material in the near future.
Check out the video for their newest single, “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie,” below. That bassline is positively funky.