Red Hot Chili Peppers
Unlimited Love


2.5
average

Review

by SublimeSound USER (29 Reviews)
April 1st, 2022 | 100 replies


Release Date: 2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: California's legendary modern rock mainstays return to form with an album overpacked with strong musicianship and dated ideas. We may be happy to hear them return, but they sound as if they've spent too much time in the sun.

As a lifelong Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, I take no great pleasure in writing this review. But I feel like I must – like I owe it to the band who kick started my interest in music as a middle schooler, like I owe it to the manic young man who found connection in their energy and drive, like I owe it to the adult who has returned to this quartet’s discography for a heady dose of nostalgia on difficult days.

In March of 2022, the Red Hot Chili Peppers released their first new album recorded with their classic, crushing lineup of Kiedis, Balzary, Frusciante, & Smith in 16 years. It’s a new Red Hot Chili Peppers album! The gang’s all here! And…

It’s fine.

It’s just fine. Which, in a sense, is the most crushing critical blow I could aim against a band as venerable and vital as the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Chili Peppers have meant a lot of things to a lot of people: a lightning rod for manic punks, and touchstone for modern pop sensibilities, the soundtrack to dorm room headbanging sessions, and the forlorn companion to those who have loved and lost. But at their heart, they are a band about romanticism. At its most gauche, its most raw, and its most real.

You see, lurking under every pulse pounding chorus or emotional bridge, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ music has consistently signaled to its listeners a single consistent message: you are not alone. Be it through their hits on the isolation of addiction like Under The Bridge or Can’t Stop, or through signals as overt as album titles, like 2011’s I’m With You – connection has been at the heart of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ music. Lurking under the crystalline beads of a sex-sweatened brow, between sand encrusted toes, and beneath sun-cracked skin is a certain wisdom: a wisdom of embracing the beauty and life of the here and now. To head bang and bone and beat and bleat and cry under an eternal Californian sun – that’s where true connection lies.

Although this seems like a heady line for a band like the Red Hot Chili Peppers its important to note that, more often than not, this is accomplished through a carefully cultivated aesthetic and eternal presence in the pop culture sphere. It’s not a carefully crafted result of genius or innovative songwriting, but an essential byproduct of its vibe and ubiquity. And what could better embody romanticism – a celebration of emotion, imagination, and nature – than that?

Which is where we run into a problem. There is no romance, in that sense of the word, in 2022’s ‘Unlimited Love.’ Ironic, right? That sense of vitality, the balance of the tender and the manic, is largely unrealized on this attempted return to form for the nearly 40 year old band. Don’t be mistaken: the musicianship here is great – often stellar. Many tracks here are compositionally quite interesting, merging Morphine-esque brass powered jazz with tight Parilament-like funk. And the writing on this lengthy release is quite strong, even vulnerable in places.

But all of the elements that work here rarely all manifest at once: when the grooves really hook you, the lyricism tends to fall flat. When the writing is at its most tender, the instrumentation often feels the most flacid. For every highlight – like the crushing “The Heavy Wing” or touching “Veronica” – there are three or four duds. This bloat of fumbling mid tempo pseudo-ballads instill a sense of malaise, rather than the expected raucous romanticism, as if the band’s sound has lingered too long in the ever present Californian sun.

As a result, we are left with the first Red Hot Chili Peppers album that sounds truly dated upon release. The band has always had the talent of sounding perpetually fresh – be it through the richly textured pop reinvention of Californication, the unexpected tenderness of I’m With You, or the sleek electronic hip hop sheen of The Getaway. You could count on the fact that no matter how many years roll on, fresh material from the Red Hot Chili Peppers would always sound contemporary, if not even a little ahead of the curve. Not so, here. Here, that spark of life & that hidden wisdom … they aren’t gone in ‘Unlimited Love,’ but they find themselves unfortunately buried by tired (if comforting) routine.

Is this the destiny of all bands that approach the 40 year mark? It certainly isn’t caused by any lack of talent. Perhaps their sound has simply run its course.

Only time will tell.



Recent reviews by this author
Frontier Ruckus On The NorthlineFucked Up 44th and Vanderbilt
Leon III Something Is Trying To Change My MindThe Murlocs Calm Ya Farm
Tonstartssbandht PetuniaKing Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard Omnium Gatherum
user ratings (283)
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
whitecastle142 (3)
The Core Four of the Red Hot Chili Peppers reunite to jam out in this unambitious but high-floor eff...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Ebola
April 1st 2022


4545 Comments


Great review!!

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
April 1st 2022


6212 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

This is a big blob of forgettable music from RHCP, quite disappointing tbh. It's too long and uneventful.



Great review!

Sowing
Moderator
April 1st 2022


44125 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The average for this is, at least so far, higher than I expected it to be. That bodes well considering that I expected this to be a total flop.

SublimeSound
April 1st 2022


109 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Thanks!



Yeah, this was really disappointing to me as well. It has the flavor of 1 1/2 album's worth of Stadium Arcadium B-Sides.



I really wanted to give this a higher score than 2.5. Maybe a 3.0. But for me personally, I just couldn't justify it. Which was hard, since RHCP were my first favorite band - 20 long years ago. There ARE highlights, but they're just too few and far between.

virpi
April 1st 2022


219 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Well written, I mostly agree with your review. "It's fine" sums it up perfectly. There are good songs, but nothing really stands out. It's basically "Stadium Arcadium", CD 3, but the songs are nowhere near as memorable as the best ones on that album. I do like "The heavy wing" and "White braids & pillow chair" as they feel somewhat fresh. As you've correctly stated, the real stinkers are those half-assed half-ballads. They're dull. Even the funkier moments don't feel fresh anymore. It's just more of the same.



I still like the band, though. They've put out great music for decades and they're still outstanding on stage.

Tundra
April 1st 2022


9850 Comments


their glory days are over

FadedSun
April 1st 2022


3196 Comments


A return to form is average? That doesn't say a lot about the RHCP haha.

Pikazilla
April 1st 2022


30399 Comments


Band's become absolute shit from By The Way onwards

Sowing
Moderator
April 1st 2022


44125 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I think Stadium Arcadium was good but otherwise I agree Pika.



Hoping this album reverses that trajectory but I'm not holding my breath.

CamiloG
April 1st 2022


3035 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nice review! Sadly for me this was a very forgettable 73 minute ride. Very few tracks really stand out. I’d say the only ones I really enjoyed on first listen were “It’s only natural” and “Aquatic Mouth Dance”.

Storm In A Teacup
April 1st 2022


45932 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sup everyone

Storm In A Teacup
April 1st 2022


45932 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Average is a 3.6 right now. Could go up or down but this is better than what people expected it to be. Plenty of great bass, some beautiful work by John, some overall fantastic songs, funkier than I expected. First single should have been Heavy Wing and given us that gorgeous voice of Johns.

SublimeSound
April 1st 2022


109 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I find the diversity in opinion on this album to be really interesting.

I agree that Flea and John put down some truly great bass and guitar work on this album - but for me that work was too often interspersed in *songs* that really failed to grab or impress me.

Agree that The Heavy Wing should've been the lead single - love John's voice. If this album featured more tracks that matched "Storm In A Teacup's" energy I would've given it a higher score.

5secondsofsummerfan
April 1st 2022


106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Aquatic mouth dance is such a fun track. As someone whose never really been a big fan I'm enjoying a lot of the instrumentals on this. John and Flea both have some solid chemistry. I guess people finding the actual songs compelling will have varying results but this is definitely better than I expected based on the singles.

judgedeath2
April 1st 2022


81 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

> It has the flavor of 1 1/2 album's worth of Stadium Arcadium B-Sides.



Considering Stadium Arcadium is one of my favorite albums ever, this bodes very well. I immediately thought Black Summer and Poster Child could’ve been B-sides from it when they came out.



It's a few notches below SA but still way better than I'm With You or The Getaway for me





judgedeath2
April 1st 2022


81 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

dupe post, sorry





ciregno
April 1st 2022


498 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I’m… surprised I like this as much as I do.

YoYoMancuso
Staff Reviewer
April 1st 2022


19014 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

wait, do i actually want to listen to this?

SublimeSound
April 1st 2022


109 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Its worth your time. There are a few solid highlights - and Flea & John are still great players. But it really doesn't come together in a satisfying fashion.

WatchItExplode
April 1st 2022


10475 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Wait, John's back? How did that escape me?



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2023 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy