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Red Hot Chili Peppers - Unlimited Love (Album Review)

Tuesday, 05 April 2022 Written by Jacob Brookman

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 12th studio album reunites them with the dream team of guitarist John Frusciante and producer Rick Rubin behind the mixing desk. The result is a 17-track record of terrific poise, focus and musicality, and while it doesn't break completely new ground for the band, it is their freshest and most confident record in years.

‘Unlimited Love’ opens with the dark and sweet Black Summer, a melodically winding pseudo-power ballad that talks about the wildfires ravaging both California and bassist Flea’s country of birth, Australia. 

It’s a powerful and emotive opening to an album that immediately demonstrates the Chilis’ superpower—their capacity to endlessly jam out or workshop songs ahead of hitting the recording studio and subsequently finding an organic sound between obvious genre lines.

Elsewhere, Aquatic Mouth Dance feels initially like more familiar territory. Its snaking bassline with tricksy drums and funk guitars provide a distinctive basis for frontman Anthony Kiedis’ stream-of-consciousness vocals.

But there is more here—as the track journeys and swells, a chaotic brass section emerges from behind the DayGlo scenery, taking the arrangement in a different direction and the all-round creativity up a notch. It’s one of the album’s best tracks. 

As with all of this group’s best albums, there aren’t really any notably weak tracks, despite the lengthy runtime. This is demonstrated on songs like Veronica and Let ‘Em Cry, which are both fairly pedestrian melodically, but which contain fresh feeling arrangement zags: time signature changes in the former, and a trumpet counterpoint in the latter. This is extremely detail-oriented music despite the almost casual elements contained in the presentation.

On balance, ‘Unlimited Love’ should probably make the top table of Red Hot Chili Peppers albums, such is its innovation, creativity, humour and joy. If it doesn’t feel completely ground-breaking, this is probably because of the richness and versatility of the group‘s catalogue to date.

Their 1990s and 2000s ever presence and association with (frequently toxic) bro culture should not blind new listeners to this fact. If their career had gone a different way, they might be spoken of in the same breath as a band such as Led Zeppelin. Ubiquity can make snobs of us all.

Red Hot Chili Peppers Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed June 22 2022 - MANCHESTER Emirates Old Trafford
Sat June 25 2022 - LONDON Stadium Olympic Park
Sun June 26 2022 - LONDON Stadium Olympic Park
Wed June 29 2022 - DUBLIN Marlay Park
Fri July 01 2022 - GLASGOW Bellahouston Park

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