A website asked me to review the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album then told me it was too harsh, which I’m not sure is possible. So I’m putting it here instead.
The best that can be said for the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album is that it was released on April Fool’s Day and might generously be read as a hoax; a cruel experiment to see how insipid a record can be made to pass for alternative rock. And considering Unlimited Love has debuted at number one both here and in the States, the band will be laughing their inauspiciously placed socks off (and not for the first time).
Their 12th album marks the return of guitarist John Frusciante and producer Rick Rubin, who removes any trace of funk from the Chilis’ sound with a near surgical precision. The upshot is that Anthony Kiedis’ obnoxious delivery and risible lyrics are still intact, seemingly written from the point of view of a man constantly distracted from sex by household chores: “All of my love and half my kisses/superstar don’t do the dishes”; “Banged a mom ’cos I see no future/sat her down when I poured that tea.”
Unlimited Love peaks early with the mediocre single Black Summer, reaches extreme levels of self-parody on Here Ever After then turns a Maroon 5 shade of embarrassment in Aquatic Mouth Dance. The next hour or so passes in an empty blur of annoying guitars and apathetic grooves, the sound of five men (including Rubin) not caring. The producer manages to make the veteran rhythm section sound almost amateurish, imbuing White Braids & Pillow Chair’s country twang and Veronica’s No Quarter-lite guitar sound with a flaccid easy listening quality.
The remaining tracks are notable only for their idiotic refrains (“Ay-oh, way-oh, would you be my traffic jam?”) or riffs so bland that even premium Spotify users will assume an advert must have started by mistake. The 73-minute duration makes Unlimited Love feel like a tedious threat by a band that has fallen from the highs of George Clinton to the lows of Bill Clinton. If they put half as much effort into their next record as their criminal record, the possibilities would be unlimited.