woensdag 12 oktober 2011

Cock Blockin' Isn't Allowed

Five years after the release of Stadium Arcadium, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have put out its successor, 'I'm With You', and in doing so they have marked the beginning of a new era for the band. Ever since guitarist John Frusciante's departure from the band in 2009, fans have wondered not only who would fill the gap, but most importantly also how it would influence their sound. In early 2010 it was Josh Klinghoffer, longtime friend and collaborator of John Frusciante, who was officially announced as his replacement. And he does not disappoint.

Wonderfully minimalistic album cover
After a brief chaotic and disjumbled beginning, Monarchy of Roses sets off with pumping drums and a misschievous Anthony Kiedis, building up to the chorus where the song takes a surprising 180 degree turn into a very clean and polished disco-style track. Josh Klinghoffer's funk riffing takes a humble backseat in the mix, giving more room for the ever impressing Flea's basslines. Factory of Faith continues in a similar uptempo fashion, allowing Klinghoffer to gradually step more into the limelight. His flanger laden funk guitar comfortably reassures us that all is well. He is without a doubt not only a great guitarist, but his trademark textural approach also proves him to be a strong musician in general. Josh knows his place, and with impeccable timing is able to not only add to songs, but also embraces the importance of taking a step back.

Arriving at Brendan's Death Song, the album shifts a gear back with it's acoustic guitar intro. Slowly building up for several minutes, it proves itself to be a very dynamic track, climaxing near the end with Flea, who is all over the track with his stunning basslines. He is not only integral to the band, but establishes himself as the absolute star of the album with an infinite supply of juicy, thriving and boisterous basslines for Josh to weave his guitar licks around. Meanwhile, Anthony Kiedis also finds his place. His vocals are very genuine and inspire a sense of nostalgia, whereas the first two tracks at times come across as slightly forced. This is also where the album really takes off. It builds up strongly until we reach Goodbye Hooray, without a doubt the most intense song of the album. Right off the bat we are faced with a thundering riff and frantic rhythm section, culminating in an over-the-top guitar solo,something that many fans have taken for granted when listening to the Peppers.

Lyrics booklet with great pictures
The album comes to a screeching halt at Happiness Loves Company, where the piano makes its humble entrance to the album. Sadly this is also where 'I'm With You' fails to pick up again. Although 'Police Station' and 'Even You Brutus?' are good tracks, no momentum is to be regained for the remainder of our listening experience. It is applaudable for them to broaden their horizons by introducing an instrument previously unheard in their repertoire, but disappointingly it has not further enhanced their sound. Album closer 'Dance, Dance, Dance' tries to bring us back to our feet, but it does not succeed, resulting in an anticlimactic ending.

What we are left with is still a good album, but it could have been better if a few tracks had been cut, 'Annie Wants A Baby' and 'Happiness Loves Company' in particular. Josh Klinghoffer is undoubtedly the best replacement there is for John Frusciante. Although his textural approach has shown us many great new possibilities whilst staying true to the Peppers' unique sound, it has also lead to there being no really memorable guitar riffs and few guitar solos. All in all, 'I'm With You' is a good introduction to Josh, but at times comes across as slightly subdued.