Red Hot Chili Peppers, the American rock band formed in 1983, released their latest project “Unlimited Love” on April 1. The 17-song album consists of upbeat Californian hits. For decades, the group blended elements of psychedelic rock, alternative rock, funk metal and punk rock.
In an interview with Apple Music, frontman and lead vocalist Anthony Kiedis said, “One more time, for whatever reason, the universe saw fit to inject this band with another giant shot of plasma.”
This refers to the second return of iconic guitarist-composer John Frusciante after he quit for over a decade. The self-taught 18 year old guitar prodigy left the band after his collaboration on 1989’s “Mother’s Milk” and 1991’s Blood “Sugar Sex Magik.” In 1992, he quit after feeling overwhelmed by their fame and worldwide success and entered a period of heroin addiction.
After sobering up in 1998, he was invited back by the Peppers to create more success on “Californication” (1999), “By the Way” (2002) and “Stadium Arcadium” (2006). In 2009, he announced on a MySpace blog post that he would be leaving again to focus on his solo endeavors.
Although the two works prior to “Unlimited Love” were moving, Frusciante’s skronky jamming and enticing balladry was missing.
“Left to our own devices, we probably would’ve withered on the vine somewhere along the vine, as we all do at some point. But it wasn’t quite time for us to do that yet,” Kiedis said.
In addition to the return of Frusciante, masterful producer Rick Rubin — who did not take part in 2016’s “The Getaway”— reentered the frenzy dynamic. With the reintroduced talent, the Chili Peppers democratically and extensively worked on this nostalgic masterpiece.
Following multiple musical changes, the 17 songs honor old collective times. The group’s accepting, loving and magnetic bond has not disappeared and rekindles more and more every time they play together. They can be apart for years, come back together and still be on the same wavelength while matching each other’s vibes.
Although some of Kiedis’ questionable lyrics have sparked potential controversy and confusion among listeners, they usually hold deeper meaning which is better understood after relistening. On lead single “Black Summer,” his vocals start off in an eerie Irish pirate accent. While his voice might distract from the lyrics at first, the significance of the track concerns climate and environmental urgencies.
In “The Great Apes,” Kiedis pleads, “I just want the great apes to be free” and “she’s a forest that we burned.” These touching lyrics are what differentiates him and his crew from other bands, especially those that have fallen off or separated after being around for more than 20 years.
While mid-tempo latter “Bastards of Light” is not as lyrically impactful, the psychedelic style guitar strums flow smoothly through the ears. The unique elements and swaying melodies in every track are experimental yet evocative.
Highlight “Poster Child” brings in funkadelic upbeat bass lines by Flea. You can tell they are constantly seeking areas for improvement by keeping up with world events and blending past techniques with new ones to resonate with listeners.
The album swooshes off to an end with mellow and emotional “Tangelo,” where the beautiful background vocals make it sound almost like a church choir. Whether you want to sing along, jam out or simply please your ears with calm drumming and strumming, “Unlimited Love” is worth listening to on repeat. Kiedis, Chad Smith, Flea and Frusciante all killed it in writing and bringing their magic together to create organic tracks.
Featured image courtesy of Instagram: @chilipeppers