Music Reviews
I'm With You

Red Hot Chili Peppers I'm With You

(Warner Brothers) Buy it from Insound Rating - 5/10

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are an alright band that inspired some of the worst music of the last twenty years. Blood Sugar Sex Magik is a pretty solid album, as is Californication. Parts of By The Way are great. They’re given less credit than they deserve because their rap-funk-rock shenanigans paved the way for the likes of 311 and Limp Bizkit, Bloodhound Gang and Kid Rock. They begat some pretty awful stuff, but they’ve never done anything as offensively awful as any of those bands. With the exception of frontman Anthony Kiedis, they’re an exceptionally talented group of musicians. Even Kiedis comes up with some great vocal melodies. His lyrics don’t make any sense, but at least they sound alright.

Stadium Arcadium, the album that precedes I’m With You, was a giant, 120 minute long steaming pile of shit. They sounded like a mediocre homage to themselves, proving their allegiance to funk rock and casual sex, all while trying to sound more mature and confident. 95% of it didn’t add up. I’m With You approaches legitimate maturity, with Kiedis pondering themes of life and death alongside the usual sex romps. They infuse funk only occasionally, and when they do it’s always as part of a ballad. It’s a formula they’ve tried and failed with before, and the first signs of success appear here.

But, despite the glimmers of hope, I’m With You is mostly just really, really bland. I’ve listened to the album a solid ten times through, and I still don’t recognize some of the songs. It’s an album full of incredibly forgettable music. None of it is as terrible as the stuff that appeared last time out (lines like “double chins and bowling pins/unholy Presbyterians” and all of Storm In A Teacup), but most of it slides by unnoticed. Sure, there’s the occasional lyrical gaffe (“little did I know her body was one delicious vinyl”, “tick tock I want to rock you like the ‘80s”, both off lead single Rain Dance Maggie), but it, like the rest of the music, sneaks right by.

The band plays as well as they always have; Flea spent his between-album time having his bass playing flair erased by learning all the theory he could. He sounds like a session player now, someone that could be plugged in anywhere. He and the rest of the band sound like they’re on autopilot. Brendan’s Death Song is the only time they really sound together and loose, and it’s the album's finest moment. There’s pleasant, classically Chili Pepper melodies sprinkled throughout, but they could all be copied and pasted to any other song on the album.

I’m With You is the sound of a band that continues to coast off past achievements. They’ve earned the right to sit with the other alt-rock dinosaurs, and they’re content to act like them. Magazines like Rolling Stone will continue to praise them based off those past achievements, just as they do any older act. They’ll continue to get radio airplay well past the point of anyone caring. They’re just gonna keep on releasing records, moving in no direction at all.