All the Love for “Unlimited Love”

Reviewing Red Hot Chili Peppers’ latest album.

Red Hot Chili Peppers released their 12th on April 1, 2022 titled “Unlimited Love.”

The Young Folks

Red Hot Chili Peppers released their 12th on April 1, 2022 titled “Unlimited Love.”

Cali Rowe and Brianna Nusom

After waiting almost six years for the release of a new album, Red Hot Chili Peppers finally came through for fans with the release of their 12th studio album, “Unlimited Love” on April 1, 2022.

With the return of legendary guitarist, John Frusciante after he departed from the band in 2009, followers of the band were ecstatic to hear new material from the iconic group.

In celebration of “Unlimited Love” and all previous works, Red Hot Chili Peppers were inducted on the Hollywood Walk of Fame a day prior to their newest release. This is the 2,717th star that has been added to Hollywood Boulevard. 

“Unlimited Love” satisfies both new and older RHCP fans with a diversity of styles and approaches displayed throughout the 17-track LP. The band continues to retain their classic funk-rock sound, but also adopts more contemporary techniques in their playing. Many songs begin slower with a relaxed fashion, but pick up speed towards the latter half of the song.

After anticipating the release of this album, we’ll go through each song, and provide analysis and feedback for this review.

“Black Summer” The first single released and the opening track gives a glimpse of what is offered on “Unlimited Love” by building off of the same Red Hot Chili Peppers sound. With it being the first song released, “Black Summer” sets the bar high for all others. This song drifts away from the majority of Anthony Kiedis’ rap-style lyricism in previous RHCP songs. Its anthem-style instrumental and vocals bring all of the energy that will be evident in all forthcoming tracks.

“Here Ever After” Starts with a slow transition that gradually gets louder then the listener is immediately hit with one of Flea’s iconic bass lines. The drums and vocals enter at the same which contrasts with all other songs on the album. The Peppers are notorious for their out-of-the-box lyrics that might not make sense to listeners who listen to songs solely for the lyrics; only an individual listener is in charge of their own interpretation of lyrics in songs. Most of the lyrics in the verses of this song can be seen as coming from a random nature. Regardless, “Here Ever After” has an amazing instrumental outro from the trio of instrumentalists and the distinct voice of Kiedis.

“Aquatic Mouth Dance” An extremely upbeat and funky number, this track is kicked off by Flea’s groovy isolated bassline, which is then joined by the band. Frusciante strums his guitar in short bursts, Kiedis sings in a more staccato style during the verses, and the bass holds prominence in the recording; giving more into the grooviness of the tune. During the first chorus, a trumpet, played by Flea, accompanies the composition. This gives the ditty a Mardis Gras-like vibe as the trumpet synchronizes with the guitar and plays heavily throughout the duration of the track. The outro is completely instrumental and includes the heavy influence of the trumpet, as the funkiness of the horn entwines the guitar, bass, and drums into it. The song finally concludes with a few short raucous blows of the trumpet to show that the Chili Peppers are still staying strong to their funk-rock roots.

“Not the One” The third and final single released before the album features Flea playing piano which is a rarity for the band. It has a chill atmosphere compared to the prior single releases, which provided a variety of what would be seen on the album once it was released. The timbre of the guitar sounds almost flute-like. This track can be interpreted as having a mutual feeling in a relationship of thinking you know someone but you might not, which can be seen in the lyrics “I’m not the person you thought I was/I’m not the one you thought you knew” and “I miss the you, the one that makes me want to redefine/I’m not the one you fell into.” This song has a slow tempo compared to other tracks off the album. It’s easy to listen to (instrumental composition-wise) and breaks up the high-energy, faster-paced songs.  

“Poster Child” The second single released for “Unlimited Love,” “Poster Child” is one of the funkiest songs off of the record. This song is recognizable by the first second of its playing and there are a lot of references to figures in music, and entertainment, and includes multiple pop-culture references. It’s an overall fun song that captures the energy that the Peppers have established throughout their years as a band. This song takes listeners back to the “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” era specifically with its similarity to “Mellowship Slinky in B major” but without reproducing the same song with its similarities. This track gives die-hard fans a sense of nostalgia and new fans the type of sound and tone that makes up the Red Hot Chili Peppers. 

“The Great Apes” A song first overlooked by many, “The Great Apes” is a dynamic and transcendent track that has become one of my personal favorites on the album. Flea and Frusciante collaborate to begin this song with their smooth, yet melancholy instrumentation, then Kiedis and Smith join in. Kiedis sings lyrics riddled with metaphors and similes like, “She’s a box car rollin’ by/Like a black star in the sky,” and, “She’s a forest that we burned/Just a blueprint for a life that we had never learned.” The calm and thoughtful verses are rhythmic, and flow into the chorus with Smith’s hard-hitting drum fills that satisfy the listener. Frusciante shines through in this number with his impressive and hypnotic soloing that carries the composition to a new level and gives it life.

“It’s Only Natural” A dulcet and melodic tune that highlights both Flea and Frusciante’s prowesses and skills as musicians, “It’s Only Natural” once again reflects on the theme of universal love as a force that naturally drives us. The verses are filled with Frusciante’s sweet-sounding chords, as well as Kiedis’ distinct voice that harmonizes smoothly with Frusciante’s falsettos. Following the second satisfying chorus, Frusciante breaks into a rhythmic guitar solo that flows with each note and coincides perfectly with Flea’s bass. This song is retrospective of former stages and sounds of the band, primarily their 2002 album, “By the Way”, and brings satisfaction to longtime fans as well as newer listeners.

“She’s a Lover” An uptempo track that brings back the theme of love, “She’s a Lover” starts out with quiet muting and random vocals that eventually develop into a much greater sound. The bass holds eminence in the verses and plays along with Frusciante’s staccato guitar and the unconventional percussion. During the second pre-chorus, the listener can hear where the title of the album derives from as Kiedis repeats, “She’s a lover, unlimited love again.” Frusciante begins playing short bits of feedback after the second chorus that erupts into a fitting guitar solo that carries on through the remainder of the tune. Like many Red Hot Chili Peppers’ songs, “She’s a Lover” ends in raucous guitar feedback, concluding the pleasant and enriching number with a bang.

“These Are the Ways” The first half of this song is very calming and soft, and begins with Kiedis’ soothing vocals. Smith quickly brings life to the number by pounding his hard-hitting drums that carry on into the chorus, which reflects on life in America: “These are the ways when you come from America/The sights, the sounds, the smells.” Smith’s drumming stands out on this track more than any other in the album, as he creates upbeat energy that continues throughout the second half of the song. After the last chorus, Frusciante begins to play a heavier-sounding riff along with Smith’s continuous percussive slamming to create a fiery and memorable outro. The number is one of the band’s favorites from the album, as they have performed it in many of their recent concerts and was even played during their appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. 

“Whatchu Thinkin’” This track begins with the bass and drums and adds the guitar at the entry of the verse. The vocals of said verse correspond with Flea’s bass line; the staccato (short and disconnected) verses complement the legato (flowing and connected) choruses. This song discusses the ongoing struggle of Native Americans in America as Keidis has Native American ancestry from his grandmother on his father’s side. Overall, this song has a really good beat during the chorus, bringing it back down for the verses but without diminishing the energy throughout the track. 

“Bastards of Light” A unique yet evocative track, “Bastards of Light” begins with a minor-sounding synth, vocals, and a heavy and complex bass. This tune is very dynamic, as it shifts tempos frequently, and is filled with calming verses and choruses, and a distorted bridge. John Frusciante plays a heavier sounding riff following a shout of “1,2,3,4” by Kiedis during the bridge. This song is rumored to be about Kiedis’ love for UFC and MMA with descriptive lyrics like, “And it feels so fine to know my shattering bones/When it’s all those lefts and rights,” and, “I’ll decorate your face…How does that crimson taste?” The track exhibits the new instrumental methods heard throughout the album but still stays true to some of the band’s signature techniques.

“White Braids & Pillow Chair” With the title derived from an elderly couple Kiedis saw in a coffee shop, the band later clipped the lyrics for this number that describe and praise Los Angeles and the state of California, a norm for many Red Hot Chili Peppers songs. The rhythmic guitar is some of the most soothing, yet best on the album as Frusciante exhibits his Hendrix-inspired playing throughout the song. The outro talks about Californian scenery and shines light upon Chad Smith’s upbeat drumming, as well as continuing to highlight Frusciante’s excellent instrumentation. “White Braids & Pillow Chair” definitely serves as a favorite with its simple structure, progressive guitar playing, and overall mellow vibe.

“One Way Traffic” Adding to the lineup of the album’s rap-style rhythm, “One Way Traffic” is extremely upbeat with its catchy verse and chorus. This song features an amazing bass solo at the end from the genius of Flea and one of the best bridges on the entire album that shows the drumming talent of Smith and the vocals of Kiedis. The pick scrape during the bridge adds an extra layer of character to the song. There is so much energy in this song and makes reference to driving on the road, wanting to get away due to being bored of the stationary life which can be seen in the first verse “Friends got married, had them dogs/Now they read those catalogs/This commerce makes me nauseous/When did life get so damn cautious?/So I drive in search of smiles”. The RHCP members are fantastic storytellers within their songwriting in which they are able to tell an entire story from beginning to end with very minimal words in each line. 

“Veronica” A midtempo number that includes delayed guitar through the verses, satisfying choruses, and underwater-sounding vocal distortion in the background. The first half of the song is widely made up of Frusciante’s subduing guitar during the verses and the fulfilling and intriguing reprise of the chorus. The lyrics talk about love, a theme quite fitting for an album titled “Unlimited Love”, as each verse shows this concept from a different perspective. In the final verse, Kiedis sings about the physical embodiment and universal nature of love “My name is ‘I love you’/I come from the same place as everyone/Just lucky to be here/We love you the same way, and this heart is relentless.” Frusciante plays a minor-sounding sequence that combines with Smith’s rhythmic drumming and Kiedis’ melodic voice to create a blissful outro that is reminiscent and reflective of the iconic conclusion of the Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).”

“Let ‘Em Cry” A very cheery and upbeat song with positive lyrics that brightens any listener’s day. The instrumentation of the verses are very subtle, and the song is widely driven by Kiedis’ melodious voice. The chorus is very catchy and references many items of pop culture like sports teams and musical artists. The track brings in Flea’s trumpet once again, and it supports Kiedis’ voice in the verses. Frusciante rips a hard-hitting and wah-soaked guitar solo following the second chorus. After hearing this blissful track that ends in another solo by Frusciante, all I know is that “I feel fine.”

“The Heavy Wing” This song has yet again, another amazing drum performance by Smith. The song begins with a clean isolated guitar that transitions into a stand-alone bass line then all instrumentation comes together for the firs verse. What makes this song stand out from the other tracks is the chorus being sung solely by Frusciante. Compared to the reverb verses (sung by Kiedis), the vocals of the chorus are more submerged in the instruments which provides an interesting contrast. There is a synth interlude that adopts some of the styles in Frusciante’s solo work that consists of electronic and experimental rock, bleeds into a briefly isolated bass line (also accompanied by minimal synth), and transitions to another iconic guitar solo by Frusciante. The song concludes with extraordinary drum fills by Smith leading to a great deal of guitar feedback for the penultimate track.

“Tangelo” The closing song of the album is potentially an analogous version of “Road Trippin’’ which coincidentally, is also the final track on their seventh album “Californication” (1999). Evident in both is Frusciante’s euphonious acoustic guitar. “Tangelo” consists more of a dream-like tone, having a surreal feeling from the opening chord to the final strum. A very subtle synth is added during the second verse and ends after the bridge, leaving the final vocals of the entire album to stand out on its own. The heavy-hearted tone reminds people to keep pushing through their struggles even when it looks impossible or looks easier to give in to the battle; giving in. As the six-string fades out, the album comes to a close with about 40 seconds of recording noise, transitioning into brief white noise, and followed by complete silence. “Tangelo” is the best way to conclude Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 12th album by symbolizing the studio return (their 11th album released in 2016) of the band’s quintessential tone and exemplifies the continuation of their legacy in music.