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August 29, 2011  | by: Kyle Edwards

Red Hot Chili Peppers New Line-Up

Before anything else, I’d just like to express my utter aggravation at how these guys (most of them anyways) are closing in on 50 years-old and they’re still more energetic than I’ve ever been in my entire life. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are back from a five-year hiatus with I’m With You, an album that perpetuates my annoyance at their unfailing vivacity.

I’ll admit I had no intention of listening to this album. I was skeptical from the moment former guitarist John Frusciante announced his departure from the band to pursue other projects. For me, Frusciante was the Red Hot Chili Peppers; the two were one and the same. His playing style is so uniquely his – and consistently so – that it was the glue holding together the band’s stylistic fusion of funk, rap, rock and pop. The guitarist had taken a leave of absence once before, and in that span of time, the Peppers released the extremely disappointing One Hot Minute with the help of Dave Navarro (who you may recognize as the non-Dennis Rodman ex-husband of Carmen Electra). You couldn’t pay me to get excited about I’m With You.

But for some reason (writing this review, perhaps?) I went against my better judgment and listened to it. And believe it or not – I actually liked it. It’s not a perfect record, but it shouldn’t be dismissed either.

"I'm With You" Album Cover

At its best, I’m With You is fast-paced, hectic and surprisingly danceable. The songs are catchy (the chorus of “Ethiopia” has been stuck in my head for a few days) and new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer fits impressively into the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ sound. He’s not stepping on anyone’s toes – nor is he attempting to fill anyone’s shoes. It’s as if he’s been there the whole time.

Where I’m With You fails to deliver is in its originality. Listening to this album, you get the impression that more than a few of the songs are rehashes of old, unused material. There are moments in which I felt as if I had heard it all before, whether from 2006’s Stadium Arcadium or 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik. If anything keeps the album from achieving critical success, it’s that nothing stands out as particularly fresh. It’s an entertaining, well-polished gem that proves that the Red Hot Chili Peppers still have it; it just isn’t groundbreaking.

I’m With You will be released on Aug. 30. Until then, you can stream the album for free on iTunes.

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