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Red Hot or Not?

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Red Hot or Not?

Image courtesy of http://red-hot-chili-peppers-fans.blogspot.com/

Image courtesy of http://red-hot-chili-peppers-fans.blogspot.com/

Image courtesy of http://red-hot-chili-peppers-fans.blogspot.com/

Alison Wallach, Staff Writer

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Grade: 3/5 Stars

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are back, ending their self-imposed hiatus that dated back to their 2006 release of Stadium Arcadium. The departure of lead guitarist John Frusciante in 2009 makes the Chili Peppers’ new album, I’m With You, a sort of test for the replacement guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer.

“Josh is a very subtle musician and it’s not so much about the big riff – it’s more subtle, sublime, poetic texture type of playing,” Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist Michael “Flea” Balzary told reporters of Gibson.com.

Without the strong guitar instrumentals that made Frusciante famous, I’m With You disappoints in that the overall sound of the supposedly “Red Hot” Chili Peppers comes off as merely mild. Don’t get me wrong, the album is no mellow lullaby, but the use of keyboard and the translation of songs from piano written by newcomer Klinghoffer only draw more attention to Frusciante’s absence. I will give credit where credit’s due, however, and Josh does prove himself in songs like “Annie Wants a Baby” and “Brendan’s Death Song.”

Opening with the bold, disjointed instrumentals of “Monarchy of Roses,” listeners are shocked back into the funk sound of Red Hot Chili Peppers. Yet, only about half of the songs on the album reign true to these roots. While I can appreciate change, songs like “Dance, Dance, Dance” sound a little too much like pop anthems worthy of Justin Bieber, not the reputable stuff you’d expect from the legendary Peppers.

With 14 tracks, but over 60 songs written during the hiatus period that served as creative refreshment for the tour-drained band, the album lacks flow and consistency. According to an interview with bassist Flea, the lyrics carried throughout the album represent the themes of life and death. While one can make the case that this connects the album, life and death are very broad themes, and I’m not completely convinced.

I’m With You is no Californication, but fans will find that the album’s shortcomings are made up for in the instant classics “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” and “Ethiopia,” and the always flawless bass. Currently touring Latin America, look out for Red Hot Chili Pepper concert dates in the U.S. in 2012.

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