|2022||Unlimited Love||Red Hot Chili Peppers||★★½||45||Rock||Alternative Rock|
With legendary guitarist John Frusciante– whose contributions in the past had lead to the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ best works like Blood Sugar…, Californiacation, By The Way and Stadium Arcadium – again in the fold, there was a little optimism that the once mighty band of the 90s and 2000s maybe had some more life left in the tank after the band’s almost eight-year hiatus. After all, a lot had changed in music and the world since 2016’s The Getaway was released, and that album itself was surprisingly successful. For some of its shortcomings, The Getaway produced a handful of solid singles and deeper tracks that were fun and felt like quintessentially Red Hot Chili Peppers tracks.
Unfortunately, the rollout of singles leading up to Unlimited Love in early 2022 were hardly hits or energizing, and hearing LP No. 12 now, the whole album is lackluster and sounds uninspired. There are those signature Chili Pepper elements, like Anthony Kiedis’ sometimes nonsensical vocals, Flea’s slappin’ bass riffs and the mix of alternative, funk and beachy vibes we’ve been trained to expect from the California rockers. But the performance feels flat and uncreative — a group of guys going through the motions of making songs together again instead of feeling inspired to find that spark again.
Unlimited Love is not awful, and there isn’t anything particularly wrong with any one song. This configuration of the band will always have a few fine hooks, an interesting vocal harmony here and there, some thoughtful guitar and bass lines throughout, and some fun, goofy moments. That’s still true, and tracks like “Here Ever After,” “One Way Traffic,” and just fine, if a bit unmemorable.
But, as you listen track by track, you find yourself looking for reasons to keep listening and to like it. It’s hard to admit you’re listening just in the hopes of capturing a glimpse of a legendary band we all loved for the better part of two decades, but those days seem firmly behind them.