Red Hot Chili Peppers

Unlimited Love

Written by: PP on 21/05/2022 12:39:58

Brutal honesty time. Red Hot Chili Peppers haven't been great since at least 2002's "By The Way". The megalomaniac double-album "Stadium Arcadium" was way too ambitious and the good songs drowned against a wealth of frustratingly average experimentation. Then John Frusciante left the band and the following two albums, "I'm With You" and the mediocre "The Getaway" showcased a band that was a shadow of its former self, even if "Monarchy Of Roses" and "Look Around" were great tracks. Coupled with miserable live performances, the natural consequence is that most people wrote off RHCP ages ago. So imagine my surprise when after a few inconsequential listens to their twelfth album "Unlimited Love", I'm starting to suspect that wait a minute, there's some of that original RHCP funk magic here on display, clear as a day. Indeed, John Frusciante's return seems to have inspired the band to look backward and rediscover some of the key elements that originally made them one of the biggest alternative rock bands of all time.

Funk rock and laid-back melodies are back in big style on "Unlimited Love". To call it a rejuvenation of their beloved 90s sound is an understatement: everyone in the band hasn't sounded this good in over two decades. Flea's funky bass on "Aquatic Mouth Dance" should take you straight back to 1991's "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" days; his presence throughout the record is a constant high of creativity and provides an exemplary backbone for John Frusciante's unique riffing. A song like "Poster Child" is as funk rock as it gets, providing strong throwbacks to their early 90s output while also retaining clear references to "Californication"-era songwriting in the process.

At the same time, vocalist Anthony Kiedis takes us on a full tour through the range capabilities of his pipes. "Black Summer", for instance, is a huge, stadium-worthy song with a far-reaching chorus that's on equal footing with output from "Californication". Likewise, "It's Only Natural" is probably the best song the band has written in over two decades, coming across stylistically as signature-style Red Hot Chilli Peppers as it gets. And what about "The Great Apes"? Kiedis' soothing side hasn't sounded this inspiring and relaxed in as long as I can remember. And as for straight-up alternative rock, "She's A Lover" is like listening to a great track by The Strokes with a rowdy rock'n'roll vibe lurking just underneath the surface. "Veronica" is another great example of his abilities, this time offering a romantic perspective to rock music that's seldom aired these days without sounding cliché, yet it sounds effortless here.

In other words, "Unlimited Love" appears to be a record that completely rejuvenates Red Hot Chili Peppers' beloved 90s sound, and it does so without sounding dated or like a derivative of themselves. It's an album that sounds like was written by a group of individuals that connected on a spiritual level, which is why it feels so fresh and timeless despite referencing elements that are at least three decades old. Sure, it has its minuses like "Bastards Of Light", but that is a given on an album that stretches beyond 73 minutes spread across 17 tracks overall. Could it have been a few tracks shorter? Sure. But at no point does the record feel unnecessarily long - mostly because the songwriting is more focused and revolves less around experimental free-form jazz or jamming. It's a surprisingly consistent album that will certainly turn a lot of RHCP haters back into lovers as word begins to spread that they've written something special here.

Download: Black Summer, It's Only Natural, The Great Apes, Here Ever After, Poster Child, These Are The Ways, She's A Lover, Veronica
For the fans of: The Strokes, Incubus, Foo Fighters, Live
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Release date 01.04.2022
Warner

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