Just Needs a Little Soul
The Red Hot Chili Peppers have come a long way since the release of their first self-titled LP in 1984. The band’s sound has evolved over the years, developing with each new release and gaining a dedicated following. Now, in 2011, the band have created I’m With You, their landmark 10th studio album. And maybe after 27 years, the Chili Peppers feel the need to re-evaluate their sound.
At least, that’s what I’m With You seems to be doing. The album is markedly different from the band’s previous material, but not necessarily in a good way. There’s something lacking amid the 14 tracks, something like soul, or verve, or inspiration. Songs like “Monarchy of Roses” and “Factory of Faith” have remnants of the band’s jam-funk sound, but they veer towards much more straight-forward rock songs, predictably structured and inorganic. The ballads “Brendan’s Death Song” and “Police Station” feel bland, with little of the well-composed instrumental accompaniment one would expect from the Chili Peppers.
While a few of the album’s tracks bring back the vibe of Stadium Arcadium, like the highlight “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” with its smattering of cowbell, slinking bass, and funky guitar, I’m With You shows the Chili Peppers staying in a safe zone, taking no risks. It’s a kind of stasis, a lack of new direction or initiative to evolve. The album has some pure rock energy, it’s true (see “Goodbye Hooray”), but it just doesn’t have the musical caliber the Chili Peppers are known for. Hopefully I’m With You is just a brief interlude before the band comes out with another great album.