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Album review

With new ax, Peppers stay hot

Red Hot Chili Peppers: ‘I’m With You’

By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / August 29, 2011

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The title of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 10th album feels like an implicit pledge of allegiance. It could be to new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, to whom they show a collegial willingness to roam free as he steps in for his friend John Frusciante, who amicably departed the band in 2009. Or it could be to their own brotherhood or to their fanbase.

To whom or whatever it may be, it is an appropriately inclusive title for an album that reaffirms the California rockers’ melting-pot musical approach. With the help of “Stadium Arcadium’’ producer Rick Rubin, the band returns with 14 tracks that take a few new twists thanks to Klinghoffer yet never sound like anything but the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

With its blend of hard rock, funk, pop, punk, disco, psychedelia, and hip-hop, the album offers a few standouts, including the refreshingly bright and Beatles-evoking “Happiness Loves Company,’’ the sinuous “Did I Let You Know,’’ and the expansive “Brendan’s Death Song,’’ which moves from pastoral acoustic picking to a percussive maelstrom.

There are also spots that are curiously flat, which feels illogical given how much Flea’s bass bubbles, Chad Smith’s drums skitter and thump, and how captivating Klinghoffer’s left-turn fillips can be.

Frontman Anthony Kiedis’s lyrical approach remains hit or miss , sometimes offering a gut-punch of poignancy and sometimes . . . well, sometimes he rhymes “cheeky’’ with “Mozambiquey.’’ But if you’ve come this far with the Peppers, you’re with them. (Out tomorrow)

ESSENTIAL“Did I Let You Know’’