Sound — 8
What a difference four years makes! This album is an evolution of musical direction largely influenced by the departure of long term guitarist John Frusciante and arrival of Josh Klinghoffer, at times a Fru clone, at times a genius, at times too shy and reserved, hiding behind the more established members of the group, letting the likes of Flea, Anthony and Chad take the lead. 01. "Monarchy Of Roses" When this track began I thought I'd put in the wrong CD. The angular, metallic noise which opens the song hurts your ears, but quickly blends into a classic Flea bass line which really drives the song forward. 02. "Factory Of Faith" One of many songs opening with Flea's bass. Josh's guitar is far too quiet for my liking and needs to have more presence in the song but the solo's are good if not a little simple. One of the catchiest chorus's on the album. 03. "Brandon's Death Song" Slow melodic acoustic number which for me really disturbs the flow of the funky, disco feel opening to the album. This song seems well received though with most critics praising it. Though I do wonder whether this song got included on the album purely for sentimental reasons rather than musical reasons. Good song, pleasant guitar and bass work, some of the best lyrics on the album but too early in the album. 04. "Ethiopia" Great song. The verse is a straight up Chili Peppers classic. Intricate and complex, rhythmically it feels wrong to the ears but works. Catchy chorus and bass line. 05. "Annie Wants A Baby" My stand out song on the album. This could have been lifted straight out of "Stadium Arcadium", the guitar work straight up Frusciante in the verse. Josh really excels in this song and makes it his own, both vocally and with his guitar work. I wish the song was longer, with maybe another repetition of the fantastic chorus or haunting interlude. Josh's backing vocals on this song are truly divine! 06. "Look A Round" A real hit or miss song. Its a slight rip off of old Chili songs. The verse is shockingly similar to "Purple Stain". Chorus is poor, too repetitive and cheesy, its not a patch on some of the monster chorus's the Chili's have put out in the past. 07. "The Adventures Of Raindance Maggie" Great song, one of the best the album has to offer. Funky bass line, a blend of heavy distorted guitars ringing through your right ear and intricate, funky guitar playing through your left. This biggest let down is the chorus. Its annoyingly bad in comparison to some of their old work and the verse of this song. 08. "Did I Let You Know" This is one of Josh's finest moments on the record. Its not your typical Chili song. The guitar work is great, really haunting and spooky and Josh once again challenges Frusciante for the king of backing vocals title. Chorus, yes again, a let down. The bridge really lifts the song with some great percussion, a trumpet solo and amazing Flea bass line. 09. "Goodbye Hooray" One of the weaker verses for me. Its fast, funky, edgy but lacks feeling and direction. The chorus, though repetitive and simple is quite catchy though and helps the song regain some melody after the mess in the verse. The bridge is brilliant, its almost a disappointment that the come out of it. Brilliant in parts, bad in others. 10. "Happiness Loves Company" More of a Beatles song than a RHCP song but its strangely good. Its weird, it very poppy, a very soft song from the funk masters. Flea's piano work really gives the song a happy feel but at times it feels a bit of a disappointment knowing the amount of quality records they've put out. 11. "Police Station" Vocals are great on this song and Josh and Flea link up perfectly to compliment the beautiful words AK has conjured up. The chorus is great, really uplifting after the mellow verses. this reminds me of some of their "One Hot Minute" stuff. 12. "Even You Brutus" Strangest Chili song you'll ever hear. The piano/fuzz bass/psychedelic guitar intro feels odd, but strangely compelling. Another piano driven song that you'll ever love or hate. Its not their best, but its definitely original and innovative. For me, its a no though. 13. "Meet Me At The Corner" The "Hey" of "I'm With You". Great vocals, simple guitars and bass that really build and mix into something beautiful and powerfuk. Its a great song, very old school RHCP. One of the darkest songs on the album. Josh again wins me over with his guitar work and supreme backing vocals. Joint favorite song on the album. 14. "Dance, Dance, Dance" This song feels like it should be a Kings Of Leon track. Its got a slightly country feel to it but danced up a bit. Didn't like this song to start with. Its not a great end to the album but it certainly grows on you. The dance, dance, dance bit is annoying.
Lyrics — 7
AK swings wildly from genius to cheesy pop. His chorus's are at times frustratingly repetitive and bland, yet their are moments of brilliance on the album. "Meet Me At The Corner" and "Police Station" are lyrically beautiful. He excels in what he does best though - superb funky rhymes and raps that are almost like a 4th instrument. Lyrically though I feel let down compared to previous endeavors. Maybe AK is too happy now days to put out the beautiful, chilling vocals that he mastered on "SA" and "By The Way". I like the stuff he did on this album, but I was waiting, mainly in vain for a "Wet Sand", a "Hey", a "Don't Forget Me" or an "Under The Bridge" to appear. His lyrics have inspired me, changed me, lifted me, made me feel all emotions available to me but not on "I'm With You". Bar one or two great performances, such as "Annie" and "At The Corner" I feel a bit cheated. I wanted to look into AK's soul again but all we really get to see is his "Rhyming Dictionary".
Overall Impression — 8
Its no doubt a good album. But as a massive fan of the band, rating all three of their last albums and "BSSM" in my top 5 albums (yes I'm that much of a fan) I feel slightly disappointed. It has good songs, it has great songs, but no perfect songs. All their Frusciante albums had songs which struck a chord with me emotionally, and that hasn't happened with any of these songs. that isn't to say they aren't great, they just could be better. AK consistently makes the songs slightly laughable with his choruses, that always seem to decrease the overall impression of the song compared to the verses. DRUMMING (Chad Smith) He never fails really. Consistently great for the song, at times shines through. but nobody expected any difference. He's the rhythmic hammer that drives the band forward. For me its a flawless performance from a drummer who isn't the most flash, but plays his heart out for each and every song on the album. Highlights for me are "Raindance", "Brendans Death Song" and "Annie". BASS (Flea) Really the driving force behind so many of the tracks. At times Josh's guitar seems too quiet, to shy in the mix but Flea's intricate, funky, heavy bass lines more than compensate. Highlights are "Factory Of Faith", "Did I Let You Know" and "Raindance". GUITAR (Josh Klinghoffer) Mixed. Some songs are great yet some songs he really needs to turn his guitar up a bit. He seems to opt for the soft, clean sound but for me it wouldn't hurt to stick a few power chord, heavily distorted riffs in there for good measure. As a result some of the chorus come off a bit weak, for example "Raindance Maggie". His vocal work is great, which is a relief as Frusciante's vocal work on their previous albums was a thing of beauty and made some of the songs what they are. His best songs for me are "Annie Wants A Baby And Did I Let You Know". VOCALS (Anthony Kiedis) Brilliant or horrid. There's no doubt he can sing nowadays. Vocally he's great, no problem. Its the fact that he chooses repetitive, overly rhymed chorus's and fails to lift on the few songs which have a bridge. Rhythmically he holds his own on some of the more complex tracks. Best songs are "Police Station", "Meet Me At The Corner" and "Did I Let You Know".