Funk’s most mischievous boys are back again with a new release, and the bar is set pretty high. Following the departure of longtime guitarist John Frusciante (again), the band’s tenth album met with mixed expectations. Many, like myself, wondered whether new guy Josh Klinghoffer (longtime friend of Frusciante and a veteran sideman of the band) could fill in the mighty shoes Frusciante left behind. Others thought they were done for. Some others expected the new album to become another Dave Navarro story. But the boys are back.
And the first thing this album says is our boys have become men.
I’m with You is an amazing album, through and through. The first, most noticeable (and quite frankly, surprising) thing about it is that Klinghoffer rarely leaves a signature sound. It is almost as if he deliberately wants to disappear into the music. And though he may not play with the emotional virtuosity of Frusicante, he manages to fill his shoes pretty tightly, still retaining the Pepper feel. This is no One Hot Minute; this is true RHCP.
The second thing is Anthony Kiedis actually sounds mature, something that first started on Californication. Gone is the white boy wannabe rapper; here is a man who knows he is a legend in his own right, singing like the man he has become. He doesn’t try to compete with what’s out there; he sounds like he is comfortable in his own skin. Flea proves why he is a legendary bass player (and arguably the greatest of all time), and drummer Chad Smith manages to keep this newfound maturity in check.
All in all, the band is professional this time, and sounds as if they are trying to avoid being goofy again. If there are any fans who still want the party animals back, I’m with You simply delivers a message: those boys are long gone. This, to me, is an album of the immortals, a classic album in the making. And this is the album that, for most of the great rock bands, cements their status as Kings of Rock.
Overall rating, 5 out of 5.