It’s back to business for the Red Hot Chili Peppers; will ‘Unlimited Love’ prevail for the LA group?
Words: Sam Probert
It’s been six lingering years for Red Hot Chili Peppers’ fans awaiting new music. Despite this, the news broke in 2019 that heroic guitarist John Frusciante will be re-joining the LA band, mind you for a second time, after a lengthy 12-year time out. Not only this, the return of notorious producer and Def Jam Records co-founder Rick Rubin – who has a rich history producing and mentoring the band – is back to triumph once more. The Chili Peppers are notoriously known for their wacky antics and nudity on stage which complemented their vibrant, zestful funk vibe. It was pure entertainment and added to the aura of their live performances of merely letting loose and feeling utterly liberated.
The initial introduction of John Frusciante unravelled endless possibilities of utter greatness; They shifted from their trademark sound led by Flea’s potent, energetic, slap bass, to the melodies of John Frusciante’s guitar. A melody change which grabbed the masses and perhaps solidified their mark in rock history. On ‘Unlimited Love’ we get to experience the band back to their roots, with their original sound so vividly present in this album that it’s refreshing. ‘Watchu Thinkin’ is a track filled with laid-back, groove-driven melodies that seem so effortless for the group, this track seems quintessentially Chili Peppers.
“The return of Frusciante is unquestionably exciting.”
The album captures a familiar warmth that Rick Rubin is excellent at achieving, it is pleasantly welcoming and almost invites you to jump on the same groove as they are. A personal favourite, ‘White Braids And Pillow Chairs’ captures the very nature of the band led by Frusciante and his notorious Fender Stratocaster, and Keidis’ superb vocals.
Despite this, Anthony Keidis’ renowned goofy lyrics seemed to have upped a notch than previous albums. Famously among the Chili Peppers fan base, the band receives a considerable amount of flak due to Keidis’ vocals, and in the case of ‘Unlimited Love’, the band are carrying Anthony for most of this album. Lyrics such as ‘The sights, the sounds, the smells’ in the track ‘These Are The Ways’ didn’t quite agree with me in terms of creativity and complexity compared to the rest of the band’s contributions. Having stated this, though, Anthony’s delivery remains exceptional and convincing, though.
Most of the album is quintessentially Chili Peppers – still exciting, funky, and absolutely full of energy. ‘Aquatic Mouth Dance’ is perhaps the funkiest of them all and feels to me like a tip of the hat to their 1991 album ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magic’ particularly with the welcome addition of the horns. It feels like pure chaos, a perfectly orchestrated chaos with a means to jam and groove.
The return of Frusciante is unquestionably exciting for future projects, and with that in mind, it’s worth noting the longevity of the band, and their ability to consistently produce outstanding, innovative art cannot be understated. It will now be interesting to experience how ‘Unlimited Love’ will be digested among fans as part of their exceptionally impressive catalogue.