Chili Peppers are still Red Hot after nearly 40 years

The Red Hot Chili Peppers have dominated the funk-rock scene for nearly 40 years. The band broke out with their 1989 album Mother’s Milk, and their 1991 album Blood Sugar Sex Magik cemented the band as rock icons.

The band’s new album, Unlimited Love, was released on April 1, the day after the band received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The band has seen various lineup changes since its 1983 inception. The most recognizable being the founders Anthony Kiedis and Flea, the singer and bassist respectively, with guitarist John Frusciante and drummer Chad Smith. Frusciante joined the band in 1988 and was responsible for the Chili Peppers’ most well-known guitar riffs in songs like “Give it Away,” “Under the Bridge,” “Snow (Hey Oh),” and “Can’t Stop.” Frusciante was fired from the band in 2008 and is making his return with this new album.

While anxiously waiting for the album’s release, I was expecting to hear a new riff that would be as memorable as the Chili Peppers’ previous works. The single “Black Summer” was released in February, and fans were met with Kiedis singing in a somewhat Gaelic accent. As distracting as that was, the song was a good reminder that the Red Hot Chili Peppers are still great musicians. The band does not seem to age sonically, and “Black Summer” could possibly reach icon status alongside the band’s earlier work.

Upon the album’s release, I had mixed emotions about the rest of the songs. There were a few that were underwhelming, but they were balanced by some decent surprises. Frusciante makes a vocal appearance on “The Heavy Wing,” and as much as it caught me off guard, I really enjoyed it. Anthony Kiedis has a distinct vocal sound, so Frusciante’s lead was a refreshing new sound that helped give the album more sonic texture.

One of the singles released earlier in March was “Poster Child.” This was one of those songs I wanted to like but couldn’t. The lyrics were almost entirely pop culture references, which is not out of the band’s wheelhouse; however, the entire song was packed with as many references as Kiedis could squeeze in. It was kind of hard to digest because everything was going by so fast, but I might just be out of the target age range for the song. The rhythm that he was rapping the verses with reminded me of the “McDonald’s Menu Song” from the late 1980s, which is a memory I didn’t know I had. Maybe that was a hidden reference, too, but that mental connection kept me from fully enjoying the song.

Other songs that really stood out were “Not the One,” and “Veronica.” They strayed from their funkier sound and were more ballad-like. The way the harmonies of “Veronica” were done were somewhat reminiscent of the Chili Peppers’ older songs like “Californication.” Another great song off of this album was “One Way Traffic.” It was a more upbeat song that featured Kiedis speaking the verses, which was another nice quirk that added to the uniqueness of the album’s fingerprint. The chorus was much more melodic and extremely catchy. The song “These are the Ways” was yet another catchy song that I really enjoyed. The topic that Kiedis was singing about was a little odd and cliché, but it has a good melody and beat behind it and is really enjoyable.

Overall, this album was just about as good as other Red Hot Chili Peppers albums, and it fits really well in their discography with Californication, By the Way, Stadium Arcadium, and Blood Sugar Sex Magik. There were a handful of forgettable songs, but the album was redeemed by a select few of outstanding tracks. I think this album is one of those that takes multiple listens for the songs to fully grow onto the listener, but only time can tell. One thing is for sure, The Red Hot Chili Peppers remain steadfast rock legends that create iconic music spanning multiple decades.