It has been some time since the American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers has seen the spotlight. Its last album, Stadium Arcadium, was released in 2006, and after its world tour for the album concluded in 2007, the group decided to take a break.
Anthony Kiedis, along with co-founding bass player Michael “Flea” Balzary, longtime drummer Chad Smith and the most recent addition to the group, guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, all came together in September 2010 to begin recording for their 10th studio album, I’m With You.
Although the group had compiled enough music for a double album, it narrowed its song selection down to 14. The first single from that selection, “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie,” has been popular on iTunes, cracking the top 50 this summer.
“Monarch of Roses” has been popular on iTunes as well. The initial drumming in the song stirs excitement and interest. The lyrics use “rose” to symbolize love and how people find themselves entangled in the emotion, specifically love at mental and physical levels.
While compiling the album, the group’s longtime supporter Brendan Mullen passed away. It was this tragic event for the band that inspired “Brendan’s Death Song.” Unlike some of the album’s other songs, it is serene, with the vocals more prominent than the instruments. The song questions one of life’s many themes – fate – and how nice it would be if there were signs to prepare us for events like death.
Fate is also discussed in “Even You Brutus”? which is sung like a proclamation. Statements are made over the course of the song such as “You never know how it might unfold … Time will tell but it never gets old.”
The lyrics of the more upbeat songs “Dance, Dance, Dance” and “Look Around” are repetitive but for the sake of emphasis and persuasion. In “Dance, Dance, Dance,” the vocals get progressively more high-pitched as the singer wants to spend the night living in the moment, dancing.
Drums and guitar are well-blended on the upbeat “Look Around” and it is repetitive, specifically in the chorus, with constant iteration of the song’s title. While this makes an argument, to “Look Around,” it poses a question: look around for what? The song could be suggesting to look around for a number of items such as love, safety or security, as well as opportunities.
During their hiatus, the band members pursued different projects. One member, Flea, studied music theory at the University of Southern California, where he learned to play the piano along with other music composing techniques.
These new techniques are on display in a few songs throughout the album. In “Happiness Loves Company,” the song begins with a beautifully composed piano introduction that sets a completely different tone for the song. But when put together with the drums, the melody still remains faithful to the group’s traditional form of music.
That shift in focus is also present in “Meet Me at the Corner,” which has a much slower tempo. Although it seems as though the song picks up at the chorus, it actually remains relaxed. The drumming is more calm, and there’s a flavor of jazz when it’s combined with the soft guitar.
While the Red Hot Chili Peppers has successfully created more music that is faithful to its style with I’m With You, it adds a few welcome elements of musical fusion throughout the album. It would be served well to continue experimenting as its members’ respective careers go on.
3.5 out of 5 stars.