Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers Are Finally Back With Their Chart Topper ‘Unlimited Love’

Red Hot Chili Peppers are hot once again. The band received their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 31 and have now dropped their 12th studio album, Unlimited Love. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and many have praised its music.

They had two lucky charms: their long-time guitarist John Frusciante, who returned to the band for the second time in 2019, and their long-time producer Rick Rubin, who hasn’t produced a Red Hot Chili Peppers album since 2011’s I’m With You.

The group has returned to its roots on Unlimited Love.

Red Hot Chili Peppers being honored with their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2022.
Red Hot Chili Peppers | Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Red Hot Chili Peppers are back with their 12th studio album ‘Unlimited Love’

Unlimited Love is Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ second album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 album chart since 2006’s Stadium Arcadium. According to Billboard, the group has had eight top 10 albums on the chart.

The album replaces Machine Gun Kelly’s Mainstream Sellout atop the chart, giving the list back-to-back rock albums at No. 1 for the first time in over four years. The last time that happened was when The Killers’ Wonderful Wonderful debuted at No. 1 on the Oct. 14, 2017 chart, a week after Foo Fighters’ Concrete and Gold opened at No. 1.

So far, it has sold 97,500 copies in the U.S. and has scored more than 145 million streams. According to NME, it is the best-selling rock album of 2022 so far.

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Red Hot Chili Peppers add something new to ‘Unlimited Love’

Unlimited Love is the perfect balance of new and old. The album followed the release of the No. 1 hit “Black Summer,” the first of 17 tracks on the album. The song starts with a classic Frusciante guitar riff similar to the one in “Scar Tissue” or “Californication.”

“Aquatic Mouth Dance” is another track that sounds quintessentially Red Hit Chili Peppers, although they’ve added a nice touch with a brass section, which is not usual for them. Flea’s bass, Frusciante’s guitar, and Anthony Kiedis’ quick lyrics weave in and out of each other like “Can’t Stop.”

Red Hot Chili Peppers add new sounds and techniques to songs like “Here Ever After,” “Not the One,” “Poster Child,” and “Tangelo.” They even get a little techno on “Bastards of Light.”

Kiedis’ rapping has never been better than on “Poster Child.” Flea’s bass playing on “Here Ever After” is perfect, and Frusciante’s guitar solos on “The Great Apes” are face-melting. Chad Smith’s drumming is on point throughout the entire album.

It all works. There are tracks for fans who love Red Hot Chili Peppers’ distinct style and tracks for newer fans or fans who want to hear the group take on newer sounds. Red Hot Chili Peppers don’t alienate any of their fans on Unlimited Love. With Frusciante and Rubin back onboard, the group has returned to its roots.

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What are critics saying about ‘Unlimited Love’?

Reviews for Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Unlimited Love have been mixed.

The Guardian writes, “If Red Hot Chili Peppers’ earlier work was defined by a strain of masculinity so aggressive that the funk-metal genre it inspired might better have been called incelcore, their output since 1999’s Californication has been notable for its mellower, more contemplative sound.

“That’s been both a blessing and a curse: every so often, they have stumbled across a genuinely moving tune, as with ‘By the Way’ or ‘Scar Tissue,’ but most of their 21st-century output has been soul-crushingly dull. Unlimited Love fails to buck that trend. Bloated and self-indulgent, it plods along, with barely a memorable melody or thought-provoking lyric among its 17 tracks.”

NME’s Ali Shutler gave it four stars and wrote, “There’s a lot to ‘Unlimited Love,’ both in scale and ambition. It’s at once familiar – without being boring – and fresh (but never at the expense of the band’s identity).”

Rolling Stone agrees, although they add that the group sounds like itself again thanks to Frusciante’s return. They wrote, “Much of the album feels like a tour of the band’s greatest tropes… More than anything, this record feels like a coming home. There’s a certain magic that happens with these four musicians, and Frusciante’s absence always leaves a piece of the puzzle missing. Thankfully, he always finds his way back.”

Whatever Red Hot Chili Peppers are doing on Unlimited Love, whether it’s returning to their roots or not, we’re glad they’re making music after a long hiatus. Someone needs to keep rock ‘n’ roll alive.

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