There’s life in the old dogs yet

Five years since their ambitious-yet-uneven double album ‘Stadium Arcadium’, and it’s all change in the Chili Peppers camp again. Out is long-serving guitar hero John Frusciante, and in his place, close friend and multi-instrumentalist Josh Klinghoffer.

Unsurprisingly, instead of forcefully trying to fill Frusciante’s shoes with wailing virtuoso solos, Klinghoffer blends in with the group to evolve them into a fuller, more layered incarnation (their seventh!), all the while making his presence very well felt. That said, while almost every Chilis album has elevated one band member as a prominent star, on ‘I’m With You’, it would seem Anthony Kiedis is stepping up to claim that prize.

His singing has become fluid, the rapping more robust, his lyrics less salacious, more cerebral; perhaps the product of his becoming a father four years ago. To be fair, he’s probably been propelled by the enhancement of his bandmates, who all sound strong, invigorated and renewed. They ably traverse disco (‘Monarchy Of Roses’), post-punk (‘Factory Of Faith’), Afrobeat (‘Ethiopia’), punk (‘Goodbye Hooray’), and hip-hop: Flea’s syncopated piano stabs on ‘Even You Brutus’ sound like a long-lost Jay-Z sample.

With flashes of Moroder, ’60s LA pop, the ronnettes, and even jazz (thanks to Flea’s wonderfully intricate bass lines), ‘I’m With You’ and its impressive spectrum of musicality proves there’s life in the old dogs yet. Some may have written them off already, but on the strength of their best album in a decade, I’m with them.

8/10

Words by Simon Harper
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