Red Hot Chili Peppers – Unlimited Love
Released: April 1, 2022
Anthony Kiedis // Vocals
Chad Smith // Drums
Flea // Bass
John Frusciante // Guitar
38 years after their first release and 6 years since their last, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers have returned with their new opus Unlimited Love and it is an absolute pearler. For me, this is the ultimate RHCP lineup. Flea, Anthony Kiedis, Chad Smith and John Frusciante (who returned to the band in December 2019) along with legendary producer Rick Rubin, the man that brought them to the forefront of the music scene with 1991’s Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magic. So it’s fair to say that before even listening to this album, I had high hopes. Does it deliver? F*ck yeah it does.
For starters, there are 17 songs on this bad boy and there are probably another thirty they left on the chopping block. These fellas haven’t been faffing about in their time away. F*ck it’s good to have them back.
The lads kickstart proceedings with the first single ‘Black Summer’ and the second I heard this back in February I was all over it. Hearing Frusciante and Kiedis roll off each other, it’s like coming home. When Flea and Chad join in it’s just perfect. A beautiful start to the album.
‘Here Ever After’ and ‘Aquatic Mouth Dance’ is the sound of four old friends and seasoned musicians locked in as one. Flea opens each song with his inimitable bass sound but you’ve got two very different beasts going on here. One is a groovy dance-along rock number and the other is one you could salsa to (if your feet weren’t put on backward and on the wrong side like mine). The addition of a small horn section in ‘Aquatic Mouth Dance’ rounds this number out nicely.
The first time I heard ‘Not the One’ I was a bit worried. A ballad of sorts that I couldn’t listen to a whole album of, but in the midst of the rest of the album this song makes total sense and after a few sits, I’m 100% sold on it. A beautiful track that is dripping with emotion. It leads nicely into ‘Poster Child’ which is a more upbeat yet cruisey track that showcases Kiedis’ killer vocal delivery. His unique rap style and smooth hooks see him steal the show on this one and it sounds like the rest of the lads are happy to ride the wave with him. Rolling into ‘The Great Apes’ is ‘It’s Only Natural’ and the pace is set. This is a smooth bike ride up the coast with no other bastard on the road. It’s like a pub on the beach with free beer, burgers that don’t make your arse blow up and a complete absence of Karen’s making a scene because their latte had too much froth. Each song starts subtly and builds to an energetic orgasmic finale. This is definitely shaping up to be the album you throw on the turntable when you’ve had a bad day, or if you want to keep having a good one.
There’s no bad days here though. The fellas are in a good place and ‘She’s a Lover’ is a great indication of this. It carries a similar feel to ‘Hump de Bump’ from Stadium Arcadium and the swagger is real. Put this on in the background and half the place will be dancing without knowing it. ‘These Are The Ways’ sounds like it could be the title track for a turn of the century teen sitcom where a teenage werewolf goes to a vampire school and tries to fit in. Can’t help but think of The Mandalorian when I see the title and it’s time to turn my nerd card in.
Go on Flea. Get your fingers out and take that bass for a walk mate. It’s all groove on ‘Whatchu Thinkin’ and I could see the lads play this in a small club. It’s hardly the type of high-energy monster that you’d play to 50,000 drunk punters but if anyone can it’s these four legends. I’m starting to think that the Chilli’s are hell-bent on making this a bit of a gentle venture and then ‘Bastards of Light’ comes on. It opens up with what sounds like a duck walking before breaking out into an almost erratic Mr. Bungle styled explosion of noise before sliding back into the world of smiling sanity and eases into ‘White Braids & Pillow Chair’. At this point, I reflect on Kiedis’ lyrical content and how seamlessly he bridges his words between a perfectly made point and nonsensical absurdity. An effortless amalgamation of abstract nuance and absolute clarity. He takes to a bit of storytelling as well with ‘One Way Traffic’ as the rest of the band chimes in with a few “AY OH WAY OH’s”. The energy goes up a notch and Flea rips out a bass solo that’ll have the scattered masses wondering how in the actual hell he does that.
If you’re after singalongs then this album is chockers full of them and ‘Veronica’ is no exception. This one is almost like two songs overlapped to be one with the timing shift into the chorus. It’s actually pretty cool and threw all assumptions I had about the direction of the song out the door.
‘Let ‘Em Cry’ moods its way into the room and I’m starting to think Barry White is going to sing on this one. There’s a trumpet in the joint and Frusciante’s guitar solo is delicious. He really is fucking brilliant. Some musicians bang on about their instruments being their voice. When Frusciante plays he evokes emotion. He can shift the mood of the music with a single note. An absolute gift.
‘The Heavy Wing’ sounds like it could be the sequel to the album opener ’Black Summer’. Chad Smith sounds like he’s having a ball on this one as he covers every damn inch of his kit. He is very easily one of the best percussionists in the world. He holds this band together with a loving stranglehold and the lads are tight as a fish’s arse as a result. If he wasn’t surrounded by some of the best musicians in the world you could just listen to this for his drumming. His drum fills throughout every song are perfect.
Album closer ‘Tangelo’ is a beautiful finisher. Just Kiedis and Frusciante riding this wave back home. A seemingly simple number yet poignant and sweet. It rounds out the 17 tracks nicely. All in all, this is a cool album. On first listen it sounds to me like a group of friends riding a great wave in life. There’s no anger or erratic panic anywhere on this album. It reeks of love and joy yet has all the hallmarks of the Red Hot Chili Pepper sound you’ve always loved. Unlimited Love seems like the most organic work they’ve released in over a decade and is absolutely worth listening to in whole, and on repeat. I’ll be giving this album a solid flogging.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Unlimited Love tracklisting:
1. Black Summer
2. Here Ever After
3. Aquatic Mouth Dance
4. Not the One
5. Poster Child
6. The Great Apes
7. It’s Only Natural
8. She’s a Lover
9. These Are the Ways
10. Whatchu Thinkin’
11. Bastards of Light
12. White Braids & Pillow Chair
13. One Way Traffic
15. Let ‘Em Cry
16. The Heavy Wing