1.”Monarchy of Roses" 4:12
2.”Factory of Faith” 4:20
3.”Brendan’s Death Song" 5:38
5.”Annie Wants a Baby” 3:40
6.”Look Around" 3:28
7.”The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie" 4:42
8.”Did I Let You Know" 4:21
9.”Goodbye Hooray” 3:52
10.”Happiness Loves Company” 3:33
11.”Police Station” 5:35
12.”Even You Brutus?” 4:01
13.”Meet Me at the Corner” 4:21
14.”Dance, Dance, Dance” 3:45
RHCP is a rock band with a style that puts a very strong emphasis on funk, punk, and psychedelic rock. The Chilis’ guitarist through their most prominent times was the venerable John Frusciante. He left the band prior to the production to this album, and this is the first album to feature Josh Klinghoffer as the lead guitarist.
The paragraph above gives you the general gist of how I’ll be reviewing this album. This album is a phenomenal album, and part of what sets it apart from other albums (other Chilis albums included) is the influence of this new guitarist.
I knew Josh Klinghoffer prior to this album because I followed John Frusciante’s solo album releases. Josh was a frequent collaborator with him, and I also knew him from his session work with Beck and Gnarls Barkley. Josh has a very unique approach to guitar playing, and his talents shined ever since those days. Check out a video of Gnarls Barkley’s FTB session below.
Josh utilizes spacial effects (reverb, echo, Wah-Wah, etc) very extensively, and his Fender-based tones that bite into the mix can always be heard a track that features him. His Wikipedia biography says that he has been constantly playing guitar since he was a little kid, and that really shows in his guitar playing.
There are guitarists who pioneer in guitar playing itself, and there are guitarists who pioneer on creating the soundscape generated by the instrument. Of course, it takes a lot of talent to become one of those guitarists but it also takes a lot of time and effort. Taking a bipartisan approach, John (Frusciante) happens to be the former and Josh happens to be the latter.
John plays like Hendrix. That’s an extremely big compliment. He primarily plays fender, his rhythm playing is very smooth and liquid with chomps that bite hard, and his fierce solos are driven by ferocious overdrives and feedbacks with superfluous wah-wahs. John’s virtues come from playing itself.
Josh’s approach makes it seem like he plays “less”, but the sound generated by his playing doesn’t amount to less. When Josh plays a note, that note “lives” through wah effects, fills the stage with exuberant reverberation, and is followed by echo effects. Some say his style is “shoegaze-y”, and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with this.
Because they’re so different, it’s sometimes frustrating to see Josh play John’s songs because you don’t get the exact sound that you expect. That funky riff of “Can’t Stop” is something that only John can play to satisfaction. But I bet that some would be frustrated if they saw John play “Ethiopia” or “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie”. It’s not about who’s better. It’s just that they are different.
Josh says he joined the Peppers because he’s “always been attracted to the idea of a tight-knit unit, a band of family, a brotherhood. Since my earliest memory, they always seemed like a band with a lot of love for each other.” The band has been around for a very long time. They’ve played so much with each other that they probably formed a comfort zone without even knowing about it. If John had stayed around, their next album would have been more or less another “Stadium Arcadium”: not that that’s a bad thing, and not that Stadium Arcadium is a bad album. It’s just that there would have been less innovation and motivation to move the boundary.
Jack White said in his interview with Conan O’Brien, “Nothing good can come from comfort”. And John’s departure and Josh’s joining certainly would have caused the band to leave its comfort zone. Chad Smith noted “this is a new band. Same name, but it’s a new band.” That is exactly what happened in this album. The funk and the beautiful storytelling is still there, but the soundscape is very new. Ethiopia is not your standard 4/4 measure song, the touring members now consist of multiple members playing African instruments, the piano parts on Police Station is something that you don’t normally see in your Peppers’ music.
This is a great album because it’s familiar, but at the same time it opens your ears to different types of music. And that’s always a good thing to a music lover. Every song is less riff-based and more of a fluid story that starts, happens, and ends. The album is very easy to listen to in one sitting, and the listening experience is certainly a pleasure.
My favorites: Look Around, Brendan’s Death Song, Did I Let You Know, Police Station.