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CD Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers

Published: Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Updated: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 17:08

Red Hot Chili Peppers, RHCP review

Francis Specker/Landov/MCT

Red Hot Chili Peppers lead singer Anthony Kiedis performs in Hollywood, California, during the Third Annual Hullabaloo to benefit the Silverlake Conservatory of Music on Saturday May 5, 2007.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

I'm With You

(Warner Bros.)

Grade: B


Red Hot Chili Peppers come with certain signifiers. They wear socks on private parts, enjoy Rick Rubin's punk-funk production, make ballads that sound like "Under the Bridge," and have gone through as many guitarists as Spinal Tap went through drummers.

This doesn't mean you can guess away I'm With You, the Peps' 10th studio jawn, by acknowledging its clichés.

Anthony Kiedis has been a gloomy Gus before but never as much as throughout You. Mortality — and the vile flotsam of relationships gone by — line his stanzas. While guitarist Josh Klinghoffer (don't get comfy, Josh) riffs hard on "Brendan's Death Song," Kiedis moans like Hamlet's ghost. Okay, it's a death song. But "Happiness Loves Company" is no picnic, either. Instead, it's a funereal look at midlife crises, raw, real and imagined.

Musically, there's a level of cheer revolutionary in the Red Hot canon. The Peps get hep to mariachi brass on "Did I Let You Know," and during "Monarchy of Roses," the flighty disco vibe that bassist Flea started on "Californication" is perfected. Yet even when RHCP get up on the strip club-rocking "Look Around," Kiedis goes down and takes a "long hard look" at consequences.

It works and it's wonderful, but, you know, waaah-waaah.

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