About three songs into the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album, 'I'm With You,' bassist Flea reviews the album more succinctly than an outsider ever could when he states,"We're rolling everybody! It starts with bass."

The low end does indeed rule on this, the Chili Peppers' tenth studio album. It's their first since guitarist John Frusciante, an integral part of the band's songwriting for the last 20 years, left for the second and final time.

It seems Flea has taken it on himself to fill a large part of the resulting void, as smooth, rubbery bass lines stand way up front in the mix on nearly every track.

Although the bassist had spoken in recent interviews about being influenced by the Rolling Stones while working on 'I'm With You,' unless he's talking about 'Emotional Rescue,' we're not sure what he means.

There's little straight-up rock to be found here; instead, soul, funk, and to a surprising degree, disco sounds feature prominently on this extremely smooth, refined album full of subtle and interesting undercurrents.

Don't believe us? Listen to the upbeat dance rhythms and chicken-scratch guitar of album-opener 'Monarchy of Roses,' or the disco-handclaps that accentuate the chorus of 'Look Around.' When the band does let things get, we'll say, tastefully wild, like on the Hendrix-jazz fusion of 'Goodbye Hooray''s finale, it's quite impressive. However, it also makes you wish they'd let things get louder and dirtier a bit more often.

Still, new guitar recruit Josh Klinghoffer, who played with the band as part of an expanded onstage lineup during their last tour, pops up front at least once a song with economical but always interesting and creative parts.

We're not sure if it's him or Flea playing piano on second-side tracks like the jaunty 'Happiness Loves Company,' but they add a lovely texture, particularly the haunting, almost Radiohead-esque line at the end of 'Police Station.'

It's going to be really interesting to see how this sleek-sounding record translates to the live stage, and we won't have to wait long to see how that goes down.

Tomorrow night (Aug. 30), in addition to a pre-taped performance on Fuse TV, the Peppers will perform in a special live concert broadcast to theaters around the world. You can find out where it's playing near you by visiting the Fathom Events website.




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