Los Angeles rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers returned from a five-year hiatus with their new album, “Unlimited Love.” While the work may be something special to die-hard fans, to the everyday listener it is nothing more than an average alternative album with a few more grooves than usual.
With the return of beloved guitarist John Frusciante, the announcement of a 2022 world tour and multiple press leaks from Frusciante’s hairstylist, Shampoolio (yes, you are reading the name correctly), the momentum for a new Red Hot Chili Peppers album has been building since well into pre-pandemic times.
When it comes to the overall feel of the album, fans can expect to hear both the classic funk-rock sound of their early days mixed with the mellow pop-rock ballads of their recent releases.
The most positive attribute of the album is the musical chemistry among each member of the band. Unlike other works, drummer Chad Smith plays a leading role in the instrumentation of the album, providing fans with fills and grooves reminiscent of early Led Zeppelin.
Frusciante alongside bassist Flea work together to create hip-shaking funk melodies that have not been present in their music since Frusciante exited the band in 2008. Frontman Anthony Kiedis’ lyrics, however, come off as corny and uninspired at many parts throughout the album.
“Unlimited Love” opens with “Black Summer,” a pop-rock tune with catchy verses and a climactic guitar solo that allows fans to fully embrace the return of Frusciante.
“It’s been a long time since I made a new friend / Waitin’ on a black summer to end / It’s been a long time and you never know when / Waitin’ on another black summer to end,” Kiedis sings.
The opening track is one of the few highlights the album provides, along with the following track, “Here Ever After,” a bright, drum-heavy song that also gives fans an exciting change of pace compared to other tracks.
Other big moments include “These Are the Ways,” a rock and roll ballad with an energetic arena-rock chorus and a breakdown reminiscent of the ‘90s grunge era. The album’s closing track, “Tangelo,” a sleepy lullaby with a modern-day indie feel, also serves as another highlight.
However, the other tracks lack both inspiration and originality. They come off as underwhelming and painfully repetitive at times. Tracks like “She’s a Lover” sound identical to songs off their 2006 album, “Stadium Arcadium,” while ballads like “White Braids & Pillow Chair” sound similar to songs off their 2002 album, “By the Way.”
Another noticeable void in the album was the lack of a stand-out hit. While multiple songs on the album have the potential to be brought to life on their upcoming tour, there was not a single song that could captivate fans the way “Under the Bridge” or “Scar Tissue” have in the past. There was also no catchy guitar riff or chorus for fans to whistle along to.
While Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Unlimited Love” is in no way unlistenable, it lacks the innovation and growth promised to fans upon its first announcement. Although it does not take away from the four-decade legacy of the band, it certainly does not add anything either.