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In 2022, Red Hot Chili Peppers fans worldwide were able to rejoice. Not only fan favorite John Frusciante returned to the band, but a whopping two double albums appeared on the market. In particular, the second album, Return Of The Dream Canteen, seems to be an absolute work of conviction. Therefore, it is worth taking care of this special album in detail, which, like its predecessor Unlimited Love, was also refined by production genius Rick Rubin.
Meanwhile, "Return of the Dream Canteen" represents the thirteenth studio album of the Chili Peppers. Would it be appropriate to doubt the performance of the four gentlemen around Anthony Kiedis after almost forty years of career? With most bands, this question can be answered with a resounding yes. But the Californians are not "most bands." With only about half a year apart, the Red Hot Chili Peppers released two double albums with 17 songs. One album represents the heart, the other the mind. But which album stands for which attribute? In the following paragraphs you will find out the answer to this and possibly other questions. Raise the curtain for the Funky Monks and their funk rock, which knows how to inspire generations of people.
While "Unlimited Love" represents classic Red Hot Chili Peppers sound and hardly dares to experiment, "Return Of The Dream Canteen" is more experimental compared to its predecessor. Songs like "Reach Out", "Bag of Grins" or "Carry Me Home" unite the sporadic heavy metal part. A "La La La La La La", on the other hand, delights with a soulful atmosphere and abundant references to pop culture. In fact, both albums were created at the same time and the decision was made to split the amount of songs onto two double albums. The new album comes from the heart without any doubt. Because so much verve and freshness come from very few artists who have been in the business for so long.
"Unlimited Love" is by no means a bad album. Because its singles embody everything that one has come to love about the Chili Peppers. Nevertheless, in the second half it rumbles along rather than delivering drive. It seems more like an album that was produced merely because it meets all the criteria of the band's sound and will reap its success from that alone. In contrast, the follow-up delivers one surprising twist after the next, making the 75-minute running time fly by. Even the first handful of songs on "Return of the Dream Canteen" offer more variety and a sense of funkiness that we know and love from the Californians—more so than "Unlimited Love" in its entirety. Although technically the new album is the second part of "Unlimited Love," it is the rare sequel that surpasses the original. An "Eddie" or "Fake as Fu@k" generates enough bass runs from Flea, cosmic guitars from Frusciante, driving beats from Chad Smith, and iconic vocals from Anthony Kiedis to send fans into ecstasy.
Already with the first track "Tippa My Tongue" the Red Hot Chili Peppers impressively prove that they have not lost their groove. The remaining 16 songs also do not allow any drop in quality. Until the last note, the latest record captivates and enchants. Whether quieter numbers like "Bella" and "Afterlife" or funky bangers like "Shoot Me A Smile" and "Roulette"—"Return of the Dream Canteen" is truly a brew from the canteen of dreams, as it were, that invites you to pause and dance.
The two basic moods—intrinsic serenity and burning euphoria—take the listener by the hand. The album begins with a freaky intensity (as usual) and ends quite tenderly with "In The Snow." During the song Anthony Kiedis does his best hip-hop-esque chanting to the fans who missed it dearly. Wind instruments are also used in the course of "Return of The Dream Canteen," as well as some other unexpected sounds.
The name alone "Return Of The Dream Canteen" already rolls exquisitely off the tongue. The thirteenth album of the exceptional, Californian band represents an unconditional listening recommendation. The well-known strengths of the Chili Peppers, especially Frusciante's cosmic guitar playing and Flea's adept bass playing, shine on all levels. Drummer Chad Smith delivers more than just setting the pace and Anthony Kiedis remains the band's signature voice. In conclusion, both of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' albums released in 2022 have become listenable discs. The first album, "Unlimited Love," is a decent album that hardly dares to take risks and prefers to play it safe. Its successor, on the other hand, is one of the most varied and interesting things the band has released in years. It impressively proves that the Red Hot Chili Peppers remain relevant.
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Originally published on January 27, 2023, updated on February 3, 2023