Album review: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Unlimited Love

Field marshals of funk rock Red Hot Chili Peppers bring the old troops back together for first new album in six years…

Album review: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Unlimited Love
Steve Beebee

You might think being a Red Hot Chili Pepper is easy – but 12th album Unlimited Love suggests otherwise. This is the work of a band that has recently revived its classic line-up – with guitarist John Frusciante returning – and resumed its relationship with Rick Rubin, the studio legend who produced their best albums, not least 1991’s iconic Blood Sugar Sex Magik. But it’s one thing to have all these fireworks stacked inside your locker, but how do you light them now that you’re older and of a different mindset? Unlimited Love is indisputably an enjoyable and worthy chapter in the Chili’s extraordinary story – but it’s also an album of uncertain direction.

The band, perhaps, are not blind to this. Not The One is an affecting ballad about growing older and growing apart. Anthony Kiedis sings it beautifully, touching on the sad inevitability of change – the song isn’t a new Under The Bridge; but that’s kinda the point. Elsewhere, we do arrive at Chili central. Here Ever After would be a great song regardless of who recorded it, while on Poster Child and She’s A Lover we get to hear Flea’s four-string thwock, pop and sustain funking its way into our hearts as filthily as ever. Let’s face it, that man’s a genius.

John Frusciante’s performance is effective and restrained, and drummer Chad Smith shines when he’s let loose, notably on These Are The Ways. There are, however, way too many tracks that miss their marks, trying to supplant the old energy with wisdom; the magik with maturity. Indeed, the omission of a few, such as It’s Only Natural and Tangelo, would have made this 73-minute opus leaner and hungrier.

At heart Unlimited Love is an intoxicating, moving and occasionally backbone-freeing return from a justly legendary band. It’s a good record; just not a great one.

Verdict: 3/5

For fans of: Incubus, Foo Fighters, Queens Of The Stone Age

Unlimited Love is out now via Warner

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