Amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic, political unrest, and wildfires raging across the western United States, Josh Klinghoffer hunkered down and found the inspiration to complete the sophomore album for his latest project, Pluralone. The release, aptly titled I Don’t Feel Well, comes on the heels of Pluralone’s critically-acclaimed debut album, To Be One With You, and a slew of seven inch releases containing b-sides from the album’s studio sessions. At just 40 years old, Klinghoffer has amassed a resume which dwarfs even the most seasoned musical veterans. He became the youngest Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee at 32 as a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. While best known for his decade long role with that band, which came to an unexpected end in December 2019, his credentials extend back to his teenage years. He’s been a member of groups like Ataxia, Warpaint, and The Bicycle Thief, and he’s toured and recorded as a session musician with notable artists including PJ Harvey, Beck, Butthole Surfers, and Gnarls Barkley. He also fronts the group Dot Hacker, with frequent collaborators and musical heavyweights Jonathan Hischke, Clint Walsh, and Eric Gardner. Recording and releasing music in the age of COVID-19 provides some unique challenges, the most glaring of which may be the inability to perform music in a live setting. Pluralone was set to perform publicly for the first time in 2020 by supporting Pearl Jam on their North American “Gigaton” tour, one of the first major tours to be postponed due to the virus. While live events are still on hold, seemingly indefinitely, Klinghoffer has kept himself busy during his time in quarantine by recording videos of various covers and stripped down versions of tunes from To Be One With You, sitting in with Pearl Jam for a live stream, and paying tribute to Joe Strummer with an acoustic cover of “Rudie Can’t Fail” during a virtual fundraiser event on Strummer’s birthday.
“This is a wild time,” Klinghoffer said about the new release. “This album was made during and amongst some very new experiences. I hope it captures some of how it felt during this period. I’ll feel better when this is behind us.” The LP like a natural progression after To Be One With You, just as dynamic and fluid in its arrangements but more lyrically and stylistically focused in its execution. Similar to the avant-garde pop of his debut, Klinghoffer leans heavily on piano and keyboards for the foundation of most songs, with some surprising outliers such as the anthemic, guitar-heavy track “Mother Nature.” The album weaves sparse rhythmic moments with grandiose arrangements of strings and layered vocals, showcasing Klinghoffer’s impressive range and signature falsetto. Beneath its gorgeous playing are crepuscular ruminations about sufferings behind the narrator and wise lyrics about enduring the days ahead, wrapped in various points of view. Listeners may find I Don’t Feel Well to reflect the fears and hopes in their own lives, as Klinghoffer weaves sparse rhythmic moments — on first single “The Night Won’t Scare Me,” as well as key tracks as “The Report,” as “Carry” and “Plank” — with grand arrangements of strings and layered vocals, showcasing Klinghoffer’s impressive range and signature falsetto. By all accounts, I Don’t Feel Well is a reflection of the trying times we find ourselves in; often dark and reflective, but with a glimmer of hope and underlying themes of solidarity, something we could use a bit more of these days.
RIYL: Bob Forrest, John Frusciante, Bicycle Thief, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Atoms For Peace
Recommended Tracks: Track 2, “The Night Won’t Scare Me,” Track 4, “The Report,” Track 6, “Mother Nature”
Label: ORG Music
Goes For Adds 10/27