RHCP keep beat with new guitarist, new album

Jack H. Evans

Californication . By The Way . Stadium Arcadium . Over the past decade or so, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have released these smash hit albums, transforming them from alternative rock gods to full-fledged international superstars. The leading force behind these albums, some might say, has been now-legendary guitarist John Frusciante. But in 2009, to the surprise of fans across the globe, Frusciante announced his departure from the band. Now, the Chili Peppers are back with a fabulous new guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer, and a new album, titled I’m With You (released Aug. 30). Frusciante originally left the band in 1992, soon replaced by Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro. This time, RHCP has elected to place Klinghoffer, a former touring guitarist, in the lead spot, and it seems they’ve made a good decision. Klinghoffer’s style is distinctly less funky than Frusciante’s, as he opts for more understated rhythm parts, but both players have a similar lead style, weaving together strands of notes and chords to create an ear-pleasing but not overanalyzed style. I’m With You ’s musical style is appropriate, in that, with a new guitarist, the Chilies have also added some new sounds to their repertoire. More complex arrangements grace the album, and interesting influences abound, from the African beat of the appropriately titled “Ethiopia” to the straight-up hip-hop verses of “Even You Brutus?”. Added instrumentation is also noticeable, including a trumpet solo on “Did I Let You Know,” plus keyboards and piano contributed by both Klinghoffer and bassist Flea on several songs. That said, the music on the album remains in the realm of RHCP’s classic style. Lead vocalist Anthony Kiedis can still easily transition from in-your-face funk to graceful melodies, and the rhythm section of Flea and drummer Chad Smith still remains one of the best in the business. Flea’s funky, stand-out, and, at times seemingly impossible bass lines drive the songs along with Smith’s deceptively intricate drum beats. All these traits are perhaps best exemplified on the album’s standout lead single, “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie.” Ultimately, I’m With You serves as a vehicle for the Red Hot Chili Peppers to showcase their new, more complex arrangements along with their classic style. This isn’t just an album of desperate filler, as is proved by fantastic songs such as “Rain Dance Maggie,” “Even You Brutus?”, the quite catchy “Factory of Faith,” and the delicate, beautiful “Brendan’s Death Song,” plus plenty of others. In the end, while I’m With You isn’t the best album the Red Hot Chili Peppers have ever made, it also doesn’t have any major flaws and shows that they still deserve to be known as one of the greatest acts in modern music. Overall rating: 8/10