The funky rock titans are back and this time with a new line-up. With a past peppered with drug abuse, death and general misadventure I doubt the band ever saw themselves releasing a tenth album but here they stand, ready to unleash fourteen new tracks on the world. With producing guru Rick Rubin once again on board and new recruit Josh Klinghoffer taking over guitar duties from John Frusciante ‘I’m With You’ combines the old and the new to great effect. To be clear before we start, this is not the Chili’s finest moment, but it’s a fine addition to a stellar catalogue.
This release marking the longest gap between albums for the group, the album starts with swagger, ‘Monarchy of Roses’ harking back to their more rock indebted ‘Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic’ lyrically, whist simultaneously sounding contemporary. From the off it is clear that some of the fire missing on ‘Stadium Arcadium’ has returned, the jams and mid-song break downs elevating the tracks from background music to something that demands your attention. Touching ballad ‘Brendan’s Death Song’, an ode to their sadly passed autobiographer Brendan Mullen, combines the two musical sides that have insured the Chili’s longevity. The cock-rocking funk that gets the pulses racing and the structured song writing and pop sensibilities that stick to in the mind like gum to a boot.
‘Annie Wants a Baby’ gives Kilnghoffer a chance to showcase his fret skills, sounding much like Frusciante for the majority but in no way should that be considered an insult. Similarly following track ‘Look Around’ harks back to late nineties hit ‘All Around The World’, ‘Californication’ era raps and prominent slap-bass making it an album highlight. ‘The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie’ makes an odd choice of single, a near five minute number which pales in comparison to some of the other material on offer. It’s tight and as with nearly all of the Chili’s material, of a general standard much higher than most other bands could only dream, yet strangely ineffective in making an impression.
‘Goodbye Hurray’ is standard upbeat filler while ‘Happiness Loves Company’ wheels out a piano and marimba to create a strange Beatles styled mash-up that never quite finds it’s feet being half funky-monks, half 60’s psychedelic pop. After that double stumble ‘I’m With You’ gets back on track with some solid and more mature material, ‘Police Station’ clarifying the bands description of the L.P’s themes being “Life and death”. ‘Even You Brutus? with its cry of “I told you I’m in it for the long haul!” reveals a band rejuvenated, their three year hiatus refuelling their creative batteries to breaking point.
‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ finishes things on a dreamy note, a carefree little ditty with an almost tropical beat - matching Kiedis’ sing-along lyrics to perfection. No game changer, The Red Hot Chili’s tenth effort is more a band finding their footing once again, and sounding very happy doing so.