Red Hot Chili Peppers – Unlimited Love | Reviews

Red Hot Chili Peppers twelfth studio album arrives weighted by anticipation. The California funk-rockers welcome the return of seminal guitarist John Frusciante, while the album is the first body of work the Chili Peppers have released since 2016 Danger Mouse produced album ‘The Getaway’. It also sees another friend of the band return, one highly regarded as royalty in the world of music production: The Loudness King himself, Rick Rubin.

‘Unlimited Love’ is exactly what it says on the tin. A celebration of union, friendship, and life, all manifested across 17 tracks. Littered with lyrical easter eggs and distinctive Chili Peppers funky flare, this record is a regal return.  

The comeback album opens with ‘Black Summer’. Released back in February, the single provoked a reaction due to frontman Anthony Kiedis displaying an accent many have compared to that heard on a sea shanty. A play on his accent seems experimental for Kiedis, as it would be for any frontman with 40 years of vocal work under his belt. What’s not new, though, is his gift for writing lyrics that almost seem nonsensical, yet recount key themes relevant in today’s society.  

‘Black Summer’s lyrical focal points are that of nature. A theme that has seemed to weave its way through the slew of Chili Peppers records. Recently sitting down with Zane Lowe next to a scenic view of California’s shores, Kiedis expressed his love for the natural world. But this opening number is not just a tribute to mother nature, it’s a call to protect her in signature kinetic Kiedis style.

This interesting take on lyricism is heard throughout ‘Unlimited Love’. Second on the tracklisting is ‘Here Every After’, which again platforms Kiedis’ knack for fast, frivolous songwriting that is complimented by his bandmate’s instrumental technique.

An album highlight is ‘Aquatic Mouthdance’. The title of the song again speaks to Kiedis’s role as a lyrical daredevil, but this tune is made special due to the clever use of instrumentation. Leading with a funky Flea bassline met with Chad Smith’s spirited drum hammering and much-missed Frusiciante guitar licks, soon engulfed by a flurry of jazz trumpets.

Bold utilisation of instruments is not novel for the Chili Peppers, but it still feels just as exciting. Testament to Rick Rubin, who is known for turning the amplifier knobs up as loud as they will go, the album is a rock ‘n’ roll dream that still has moments of tenderness. The recent single ‘Not The One’, displays melancholic, ghostly guitar screams tied together with a slow tempo. A contrast to its neighbouring track ‘Poster Child’.

Again, this seems to be a running proposition. Amongst the heavier delicious funk rock gifts on this record including ‘Here Ever After’, ‘She’s A Lover’, ‘These Are the Ways’ and ‘One Way Traffic’ – ‘Unlimited Love’ has a softer side.

The comeback record houses many tunes akin to lullabies, but the closing number ‘Tangelo’ is both lyrically and stylistically an ode to the bands evolved artistry. Many would think of the Chili Peppers as a team of feral funk rockers, and they wouldn’t be wrong. But this tune is an example of their ability to produce serene ditties. ‘Tangelo’ showcases lyrics that could reference romantic relationship’s, lifelong friendships or that of a father and son – all tied together by gentle acoustic guitar strums and an otherworldly synth that bleeds into meditative background noise. A beautiful end to a long-awaited body of work that sees four people who have been through so much together both as musicians and friends re-unite once more.

9/10

Words: Isabella Miller

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