The last time guitarist John Frusciante left the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the band teamed up with Dave Navarro and went all hard-rock on the 1995 album One Hot Minute. Frusciante’s latest departure has caused a much less radical change in the band—the Peppers have replaced him with one of his closest musical collaborators. New guitarist Josh Klinghoffer doesn’t dominate new album I’m With You the way Navarro did back in 1995, or the way Frusciante increasingly did on the band’s ’00s albums, which drifted further and further away from the group’s funk-rock origins. Instead Klinghoffer fits smoothly into the Chili Peppers groove, allowing bassist Flea a little more prominence, and the band overall sounds a bit more lively than on 2006’s bloated double album Stadium Arcadium.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers
- I'm With You
I’m With You opens with two positively funky, beat-oriented numbers, “Monarchy of Roses” and “Factory of Faith,” and the album’s first half is generally upbeat and energetic. Over the course of 14 songs, though, the Chili Peppers slip back a bit into the lethargy of the later Frusciante years, with a few too many interchangeable midtempo rockers and mellow ballads. Singer Anthony Kiedis is still endearingly nonsensical, but he can also still pull together an affecting lyric like “Brendan’s Death Song,” dedicated to late band associate Brendan Mullen.
Ultimately Klinghoffer doesn’t quite inject enough life into the band for I’m With You to be truly exciting, but it’s at least a sign that Kiedis, Flea and drummer Chad Smith are interested in doing more than just rehashing their successes of the last decade. If they can cut loose a little more and let Klinghoffer integrate his musical personality more fully into the group, the next Chili Peppers album might be the full-on resurgence the band is aiming for.