Monday, March 28, 2022

Red Hot Chili Peppers Out with New Album, First with John Frusciante Since 2006 (VIDEO)

At the video, the band's first single from the record, "Black Summer."

Here, "‘Unlimited Love’ by the Red Hot Chili Peppers Is the Group’s Mildest Album Yet":

The 12th studio LP from the band features their classic sound but little that’s new or exciting.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers have often seemed on the verge of implosion, but so far the group has always bounced back. The Los Angeles quartet, whose mix of punk and funk proved hugely influential in the 1990s and beyond, has scaled heights few current rock acts can touch—a performance at the Super Bowl in 2014, 100 million records sold. But every few years the hard-living outfit finds itself on the brink of collapse. After the massive success of the band’s 1991 breakthrough “Blood Sugar Sex Magik,” wunderkind guitarist John Frusciante left the Peppers and struggled mightily with heroin addiction. Lead singer Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea and drummer Chad Smith have all had their share of substance abuse issues as well.

Mr. Frusciante rejoined and then left once again after 2006’s “Stadium Arcadium” to focus on his solo work, which is strange and sometimes wonderful and has earned him a cult following. The two records without Mr. Frusciante were decidedly uneven—one poor (2011’s “I’m With You”), the other intriguing (2016’s unusually lush “The Getaway,” produced by Danger Mouse and mixed by Radiohead associate Nigel Godrich ). Yet despite all this tumult, somehow the Red Hot Chili Peppers have endured.

On “Unlimited Love” (Warner), the group’s 12th studio LP, out Friday, Mr. Frusciante returns to the fold, for the first time in 16 years, as does super-producer Rick Rubin, who was integral to the group’s earlier success but hasn’t worked with them in over a decade. With the personnel behind the band’s biggest hits all back in place, it’s not surprising that the new set feels like a deliberate return to basics. The production is ultra-simple, keeping the focus on the group’s most identifiable qualities—Flea’s percussive bass, Mr. Smith’s rock-solid backbeat and Mr. Frusciante’s minimalist guitar.

And then there’s Mr. Kiedis. Plenty of people have poked fun at the silliness of his lyrics over the years. When he’s not crooning a ballad, his primary strategy is to deliver stream-of-consciousness observations pitched somewhere between a hepcat disc jockey from the 1960s and an old-school rapper. But if he’s heard the complaints, he’s chosen to ignore them, and goofy choices abound. This is apparent from the opening track and first single on “Unlimited Love,” “Black Summer,” which finds the frontman tossing off non sequiturs such as “My Greta weighs a ton” and “platypus are few” in what sounds like an Irish brogue. But the tune’s catchy and memorable chorus—traditionally a band speciality—blots out the song’s shortcomings.

Unfortunately, with a few notable exceptions—the following “Here Ever After,” “These Are the Ways” halfway through the record—killer choruses are in disconcertingly short supply on “Unlimited Love.” The songs are well played and logically arranged but also weirdly inert. As one midtempo groove follows another, we recognize Flea’s popping bass and Mr. Smith’s steady snare, but the song constructions are rote, enlivened only by the occasional guitar excursion from Mr. Frusciante.

On the one hand, the band and Mr. Rubin show remarkable restraint—there’s no attempt to dress up the group’s sound or bring it in line with current trends, and the simple arrangements will be easy to replicate live. But many songs feel half finished. As is typical for Mr. Rubin’s productions, each instrument is loud, heavily compressed and in your face. Which is ironic given that this is easily the Peppers’ mellowest record: The tempos are mostly slow, and there’s very little in the way of power chords. Unless you’re listening closely, the songs on this lengthy album—17 tracks, 73 minutes—bleed together.

The skeletal, funk-inflected R&B of early Prince seems to be a primary influence. This sounds promising on paper, but Mr. Kiedis’s attempts at lyrics about love and companionship fall flat. He has little to say about the finer points of relationships, and on the bland “She’s a Lover”—the most obvious Prince nod here—he falls back on groan-inducing come-ons like “She’s so full of learning curves.”

Here and there, Mr. Kiedis looks back on his life in music. The third track, “Aquatic Mouth Dance,” pays tribute to some of the group’s early influences over a busy bassline while horns add a touch of color; the fifth cut, “Poster Child,” is especially nutty, as he free associates about music history with no particular point in mind (“ Steve Miller and Duran Duran / A joker dancing in the sand / Van Morrison the astral man”). Mr. Kiedis sounds like he’s having fun, but these songs don’t hold up to repeated listening.

The penultimate track, “The Heavy Wing,” is one of very few places on the record where the Peppers really rock out, but the closing “Tangelo,” yet another quiet ballad, brings them back to earth. It’s so spare, the only things that pop out are awkward lines like “the smell of your hello” and “the smile of a knife / Is seldom befriending.”

The band and Mr. Rubin have been at this far too long to make a truly awful album—these are pros who know how to get these songs to the “listenable” stage, at the very least...

Dude's a little critical, eh?

Ima listen to the record and I'll let you know.

Still more.