After almost forty years of career, do the Red Hot Chili Peppers still have the flame, do they still have the mojo? This is necessarily the first question that arises when addressing unlimited lovethis twelfth studio album by the Californian group with planetary hits (Give it away, Under the bridge, Californication…) and more than 90 million records sold.
Guitarist prodigy John Frusciante returns to the fold after sixteen years of absence (since Arcadio Stadium in 2006), gives us the first clue: his guitar lights the fuse lighting up the opening title black summer. His presence on the album is, unsurprisingly, crucial, his six strings giving the songs a singular touch and regularly propelling them into another dimension.
After the short-lived sprain of the last album (The escape in 2016), for which they were going to look for producer Danger Mouse, then very much in vogue, unlimited love also marks the return of the faithful Rick Rubin, who has accompanied the rise of the group since blood sugar sex magic in 1991. The long-bearded studio magician was so moved to be there again that, he says, he cried a few tears during early meeting rehearsals with Frusciante. We are therefore on familiar ground, that of the best possible configuration of the group.
You have to approach this album without expecting anything extraordinary. Immerse yourself in it as you would enter a childhood vacation home, an endearing and familiar place linked to many happy memories. Inevitably, there is something nostalgic, regressive, about listening to Les Piments Rouges today. Let’s face it: we all moved a long time ago.
Of course, we can point out everything that’s wrong, everything we know by heart and best about this group, everything that smacks of rehash, repetition and self-parody, Flea’s eternally bouncing bass, annoying edge-rap phrases and , all too often, meaningless lyrics from Kiedis. Mais on peut aussi choisir de se réjouir que le quatuor soit encore sur pied, qu’il se contente de faire du Red Hot sans chercher à coller à l’air du temps et surtout que cet album transpire tout du long le bonheur simple d’ be together.
“We were very grateful to have the opportunity to be together again.“, say Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Chad Smith and John Frusciante in the press kit.”We’re like new, like a new band“, confirms John Frusciante in an interview with NME. “I put in a lot less of my ego than before and I think that was the case for everyone. It wasn’t so much a competition as a desire to give ourselves to others and to be excited to hear what others brought.“, adds the guitarist, for which”this record represents our love and faith for each other.“
In this long album of 70 minutes and 17 songs there is good and expendable elastic funk rock as they know how to do it so well, as in the jumps aquatic mouth dance and its metals in which Anthony Kiedis recalls the early years of the group, or in poster childin which the singer enumerates his first musical loves, from Melle Mel to Richard Hell, from Adam Ant to Parliament, going through the Ramones and Led Zeppelin.
The album provides a reprieve with ballads sung by Kiedis (not thatIt’s only natural) and the softest guitar, with its liquid notes, without forgetting the closing acoustic title tangelo, a lullaby that will work wonders around campfires. There are also more fiery titles, like the proto-grunge These are the pathsand especially the two songs in which John Frusciante especially shines: the great apes and the heavy wingcrossed by impressive solos.
John Frusciante, as we said, makes his mark all the time, from little patterns to meaty riffs. But the magic touch of someone who has spent the last ten years experimenting with electronic music is probably not unrelated to the countless sound effects (hissing text messages, ringtones, sirens, among others) that animate this record under the surface.
In any case, the group did not suffer any break of inspiration in times of pandemic. Frusciante even trusts the NME that the sessions in Rick Rubin’s studio were so fruitful that some were left under the sole: “50 songs“would have been recorded in total, enough to consider releasing a second album pretty quickly whose energy would be”more relaxed and less intense“That this.
In the meantime, a lengthy stadium tour awaits them including two dates at the Stade de France on July 8 and 9, 2022. They will no doubt sneak in a handful of songs from unlimited love on his setlist of past hits. These hits that have not aged, are the only ones capable of making us look decades younger in the blink of an eye.
“Unlimited Love” by Red Hot Chili Peppers (Warner Records) was released on April 1 – The group’s tour begins in Europe on June 4 in Seville (Spain), and passes through the Stade de France on July 8 (full) and 9, 2022 (all dates here).