When the Red Hot Chili Peppers announced a new record, fans were thrilled. Upon finding out that John Frusciante would be returning to the band for said record, the world was thrilled. One can’t deny that a key member walking away from a globally revered project is disappointing, or even damaging, but you also can’t guarantee that their replacement (or return) will be up to par to what was once loved. In this case, you got a taste of it all, and it’s sweet and savory, elegantly discussing the world at large and the emotional toll and immediacy that this society brings. It was worth the wait, and already widely accepted by listeners new and old.
To capture that, we had three writers dive into this new Chili Peppers record over the last month that it has been out in the world – one a lifelong fan, one a casual fan, and one a new fan. Below are their respective articles reviewing Unlimited Love and – spoiler! – praising it in every way possible.
Unlimited Love for Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Return
By Maia Franco
The Red Hot Chili Peppers have come a long way since their 1991 Aquarian cover, and have finally graced fans with the highly anticipated twelfth studio album. 32 years later, Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Chad Smith, and John Frusciante have returned to the stylistic roots of their earlier albums as a quartet to bring funk rock back again.
The COVID-19 lockdown brought in a lot of new music over the last year, as the darkest times became the perfect muse. For the Red Hot Chili Peppers, this meant making a massive change and once again welcoming John Frusciante back into the band after he quit for a second time in December of 2009. After a decade of making solo music and the Chili Peppers releasing two successful studio albums with Josh Klinghoffer on guitar, a prodigal Frusciante returned to start jamming during the lockdown with his former bandmates. This change in guitarists and extended period of isolation brought Unlimited Love to fruition, while Klinghoffer has moved on to play for Pearl Jam.
Unlimited Love is a gift to the Chili Peppers’ longtime fans with a variety of styles in the album that are reflective of older albums from the Frusciante era of the nineties and early 2000s. The album kicks off with its first single and music video, “Black Summer,” which feels like a “Hello!” as the upbeat Frusciante guitar evidently returns and Kiedis sings “It’s been a long time since I made a new friend / Waitin’ on another Black Summer to end.” The apocalyptic meaning behind the phrase “black summer” could mean many things in the lyrics, including global warming, but one thing is very clear: the Chili Peppers are welcoming back upbeat funky guitar styles into their music.
Unlimited Love has 17 tracks, each woven together beautifully and connecting the band’s sound of today to that of the past. The album feels fresh and brand new, while taking the time to pay homage to previous work that the band has put out. “The Great Apes” feels like a postcard in the mail from the 2006 Stadium Arcadium album, with the rhythms Frusciante and Flea incorporate feeling much like “Charlie.”
“She’s a Lover” is reminiscent of the Blood Sugar Sex Magik era, with Kiedis rapping once again. The band even revisited a theme from By The Way’s “Dosed” in having the chorus of “The Heavy Wing” sung completely by Frusciante instead of Kiedis. These songs are unique to the Unlimited Love genre that we are getting to know, and it’s a new era of funk mixed with alternative and pop elements.
Although the album has these fun and upbeat tracks, the band leaves room for heartbreak. “It’s Only Natural” is the song of two lovers who can never be together fully, but are drawn to each other by force of nature. The symphonic song feels beautiful yet devastating, capturing the pain felt in classics like “Under the Bridge.” The fourth track, “Not the One,” is catchy and captivating as it genuinely captures the sad reality of loving someone so deeply, but knowing that they are better off with another.
In addition to songs covering relationships, the album has two tracks that break into America’s political climate. “These Are The Ways” tackles the theme of poverty in America, complete with a music video featuring Anthony Kiedis on the run from the police after stealing food for his pregnant partner. When asked about the theme of the song in an interview, Kiedis remarked, “It’s not ‘this is wrong and that’s right’. It’s just ‘this is who we’ve become.’” This is not the only political powerhouse on the album. “Whatchu Thinkin’” references the experiences of Native Americans. The struggles this group faces are significant to Kiedis, who has Mohican ancestry, and this reference is another callback to earlier work, with “American Ghost Dance” from Freaky Styley and “Johnny, Kick a Hole in the Sky” from Mother’s Milk covering Native American topics, as well.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers returned to the studio with the intention to have fun. They have noted playing covers of classic rock and jazz together before the ideas of this album started flowing. The reunion of the band’s most famous members brings us a taste of the past, while staying true to the evolution in style that the band underwent over the last thirteen years. Their performances have aged like fine wine as they continue into the double digits of successful studio albums. And, for fans local to the area, the Red Hot Chili Peppers come to MetLife Stadium on August 17 with Unlimited Love to be played live along with many more hits.
Red Hot Chili Peppers Gives The Gift That Keeps Giving – Unlimited Love
By Sherry Thomas
Red Hot Chili Peppers have their own unique sound. There is no denying they shook up the framework and created something special along the way. Some fans were disappointed when guitarist John Frusciante exited the band in 2009 to pursue a solo career. In a surprise move, they announced the return of Frusciante and a new album with another familiar face (Rick Rubin) at the production helm. The result is Unlimited Love, their 12th studio album with 17 songs filled with funk, punk, and a whole lotta spunk.
Recent Hollywood Walk Of Famers, Red Hot Chili Peppers, revealed their intentions of this new record of theirs in a collective statement not too long ago.“We yearn to shine a light in the world, to uplift, connect, and bring people together. Each of the songs on our new album Unlimited Love, is a facet of us, reflecting our view of the universe. This is our life’s mission. We work, focus, and prepare, so that when the biggest wave comes, we are ready to ride it. The ocean has gifted us a mighty wave and this record is the ride that is the sum of our lives.”
Unlimited Love is out now and it is available on streaming services, on CD, and on a myriad of colors on vinyl. The brightness embodies the era and the kaleidoscopic range of feelings that can be heard on this album, whether it’s from the chilling underlying message about climate change in “Black Summer” to name-checking bands who adorned my walls as a teenager such as Duran Duran, The Ramones, and Robert Plant on “Poster Child.” I particularly enjoy the refrain in the latter (“You got the best of my loco / I’ll take the rest of your showboat / You got the best of my Yoko / I’ll take the rest of your low note.”)
The two aforementioned tunes have been released as singles and rightfully so. However, you’ll find other gems that haven’t made it to radio, satellite, or streaming playlists yet. “Aquatic Mouth Dance,” “Let ‘Em Cry,” and “It’s Only Natural” are ones to watch. “She’s A Lover” is the consummate roller skating companion. They show their sensitive side on “Not the One,” “The Great Apes,” and “It’s Only Natural.” Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Chad Smith, and Frusciante have a formula that has been replicated, but never duplicated. Red Hot Chili Peppers have that special sauce. Sometimes they are sweet, but have a kick, and other times it’s just pure fire that punches you in the gut. Either way, you keep coming back for more.
Is Unlimited Love the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ career defining album? No, but it’s a lot of fun to listen to and I’m excited to see what’s in store.
Snap, Crackle, Pop – Chili Peppers Sound Crisper Than Ever On New Album
By Jay Ellen
A new album and a new fan wrapped up in one thanks to this reunited rock foursome.
Listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers was never on my to-do-list. I have nothing against the four guys and their outlandish looks (or lackthereof) and offbeat-but-mainstream sound. I don’t even know, nor mind, the drama surrounding John Frusciante’s departure or return to the band. In all honesty, I wish I did have something against them that justified never leaning into them over the last 10 or 20 years, because avoiding their music at all cost after hearing the opening notes to “Californication” was a mistake.
Yes, I’m admitting it. I hope my friends and family are proud.
An overplayed alternative rock song that came out right at the cusp of the milienuum just didn’t sit right with me. I wanted to go into the new century with new sounds, not the same song that is still on pretty heavy rotation. For better or for worse, it’s still in our lives and the band has gone on to do some incredible things – tour the world, have a comeback, and reach the top of the charts not one, but two times. The latter is the most recent. Unlimited Love is Red Hot Chili Peppers’ second No. 1 album, while the first was 2006’s Stadium Arcadium. We’re not here to talk about that, because it’s been run through. We’re in the tear-jerking and knee-jerking world of Unlimited Love and I am proud of that.
I’ve never heard an album so fresh and so timely. Are Flea and Anthony Kiedis in our heads? If they are, they can gladly stay there if these are the songs coming out of being a bug in my brain. Unlimited Love looks like a carnival on the cover and in the artwork leading up to it (and as an accompaniment to it). Colorful array of LED lights gives off youthfulness and the title screams hopeless romantic antics. I’m finding out that this band’s lyrics are always sort of a toss up between ‘WTF’ and ‘Where Has This Been All My Life.’ On my first listen of “Poster Child,” I experienced the former. One my third or fourth listen, I experienced the latter. By the fifth time I had gotten around to the ethereal outro, I knew this was a special track.
“A funky piece, the Sandinista, me and minor Mona Lisa / Judas Priest has whipped the beast, the mother love was named Teresa / Bubble gum, I come bazooka, dirty dandy nanda loop / A smoke banana in your hookah, now I know the band Ruca / Bernie Mac and Caddyshack were dusty as the bric-a-brac,” sings Kiedis in a Sublime-y way. It’s fun. This verse from “Poster Child” tells you everything and nothing – and that is the essence of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The sounds are crunchy and fresh, like a literal chili pepper just plucked off the vine. As Flea wrote on Twitter, “For you audiophiles out there, the new RHCP record is mastered directly from the tape we recorded it on, no computers, no lame compression or limiters.” A great example of this is on “She’s A Lover” and “Veronica.” Aside from some Kiedis raps and gravely flair, you can legitimately feel Flea slapping his bass and fans can take that thumping and tap their foot to it – or dance. I’d be damned to not say you can’t dance to this album.
Full of flavor, Unlimited Love reeled in listeners with the funky stylings of “Black Summer.” They kept them coming back for more, though, and that is a toss up between rock melodies and genuine emotion. Although not personally affected, there is a swell of nostalgia underneath fairly powerful, hefty vocals. (Listen to “Let ‘Em Cry” and you’ll see what I mean.) I’m a fan of this song, and “Bastard of Light,” which is an underrated song from this album, and…. basically all of the songs. I am just a fan of the band.
Whomp, there it is.
UNLIMITED LOVE IS OUT WHEREVER YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC! FOR TICKETS TO CATCH THE BAND ON TOUR, INCLUDING METLIFE STADIUM WITH THE STROKES, CLICK HERE!