If Red Hot Chili Peppers’ earlier work was defined by a strain of masculinity so aggressive that the funk-metal genre it inspired might better have been called incelcore, their output since 1999’s Californication has been notable for its mellower, more contemplative sound. That’s been both a blessing and a curse: every so often, they have stumbled across a genuinely moving tune, as with By the Way or Scar Tissue, but most of their 21st-century output has been soul-crushingly dull.
Unlimited Love fails to buck that trend. Bloated and self-indulgent, it plods along, with barely a memorable melody or thought-provoking lyric among its 17 tracks. There’s never been much danger of Anthony Kiedis’s words being confused with those of Bob Dylan, but at times here his rhymes would make William McGonagall blanch: “Outside the world within ya/ Bend to the Woolf Virginia”, indeed. It isn’t wholly without merit: the returning John Frusciante throws in some inspired guitar solos, and at least it is shorter than 2006’s 122-minute Stadium Arcadium. And kudos for being perhaps the first Californian act to dare enshrine Southend in song (on the otherwise forgettable It’s Only Natural).