The long-running Los Angeles-based funk and rock band brings ace guitarist, producer and sound back for a new album titled “Unlimited Love.”
The big news, of course, is the return of John Frusciante.
The ace guitarist left the band in 2009, but returned in 2019.
And it does not disappoint (spoiler alert).
But his return also brings with it a lot of real estate. In addition to being ordinary, the best guitarist, and bandmate for lead singer Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea and drummer Chad Smith. Frusciante’s chemistry with the RHCP core members is so natural that everyone just shines on their individual roles and at the same time so beautiful mesh.
Especially the way he works with bassist Flea. Mid-tempo track “It’s Only Natural” is a nice example of how their styles fit like a glove.
And judging by the first single “Black Summer” which charts the top, their listeners also agree. And we hear a re-energized Red Hot Chili Peppers on charging and hand pumping “Here Ever After.”
Flea puts the shrink on the low end on funky “Aquatic Mouth Dance.” Those looking for more funk from the greatest funk alternative rock band of the 90s will not be disappointed. Because after more than 3 decades, The Peppers can bring it and bring it well, like on playful funk “Poster Child,” and “It’s Only Natural.”
“The Great Apes” is a six-string highlight for Frusciante fans. Not much for his guitar history, but for the way Frusciante uses the guitar, like using a paintbrush and paint on canvas. On “She’s A Lover”, Frusciante warms up the last minute-six seconds with a singing solo.
On glorious sounding alternative rocker “These Are The Ways” we hear the writing of Anthony Kiedis. And it’s as it always has been – using puns, snippets and rhymes – to think of a theme in the same way that a digital mosaic can be one image from a distance, but is made up of different images as it is close by. Play “Veronica” for a fine kiedis-centric experience to see what we mean.
We get our first taste of something other than RHCP in the slow ballad “Not The One.” Ditto, “Bastards Of Light” sees RHCP with synths, sounds like an 80’s new wave band at first, but in turn, sounds like an Americana band on the choruses. Look out for the middle 8 for another stylistic change.
On seventeen tracks sprawls “Unlimited Love” stylistically. The Red Hot Chili Peppers easily flirt with funk, rock, rap, classic rock with the virtuosity of a skilled pro (see “One Way Traffic” for a sample). But the Peppers also sound tight and unanimous. As if Frusciante had never spent a decade with Kiedis, Flea and Smith. Which is to say, this band’s lineup is the best it’s ever been and will ever be.
Album highlights also include “Whatchu Thinkin ‘,” and “White Braids & Pillow Chair.”
For this record, Rick Rubin is the producer’s chair. A longtime Peppers contributor, Rubin has been at the helm of RHCP’s hit records at key points in the band’s career. “Blood, Sugar, Sex Magic” and “Californication” the most notable of them. Both gigantic hits. His return has always coincided with Frusciante’s (several) returns to the band, including this one. If he holds his record, then “Unlimited Love” will be another platinum hit for him and Red Hot Chile Peppers.
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