More than five years after the release of their Grammy-winning opus, “Stadium Arcadium,” the funk sensation Red Hot Chili Peppers trade in their amateur antics for a deliciously developed tone.
“I’m With You,” the band’s newest release, is a drastic departure from its early, genre-bending days that included funk, metal, punk and hip-hop. The album shows they have moved past the days of heavy drug use and on-stage nudity to create a more mature sound.
The old funk pioneers are no strangers to ballads, as every album they have released since 1985 features slow tracks, but “I’m With You” puts a new slant on these soft songs. In “Brendan’s Death Song,” the album’s biggest hit thus far, an acoustic guitar sets the smooth tone, while tribal drumming and maracas drive the verses as singer Anthony Keidis softly croons about his inevitable ascent to the afterlife. The new ballads are more genuine and wholesome than those of the past and offer a refreshing look at the Chili Peppers.
Although the funkiest tracks of the “I’m With You” don’t quite stand up to the band’s high-energy history, the Chili Peppers prove they are still capable of whipping up some groovy songs. “Look Around,” the album’s sixth track, is an infectious tune anchored by drummer Chad Smith’s pounding beats while Keidis raps about falling in love with a stripper. The catchy chorus, hand claps and scat break prove this more low-key release is still worthy of the band’s famous reputation.
The soulful meditations backed by funky bass lines and cathartic drumming in “I’m With You” make the Chili Peppers’s newest entrée one spicy dish.
3.5 out of 4 stars