Red Hot Chili Peppers - “Return of the Dream Canteen” album review
Dropping its second double-album of the year, Red Hot Chili Peppers is back with another 17 tracks. Recorded during the same sessions as “Unlimited Love” with industry legend and producer Rick Rubin, the two albums share many commonalities.
According to band members, they were trying to give fans as much as possible this time. After six years without new material and the return of guitarist John Frusciante, they knew that they had to go big.
So where does their 13th studio album land them?
"Return of the Dream Canteen" is typical Red Hot Chili Peppers, there is much to love but also a lot to forget.
One thing is certain, the Chili Peppers needed Frusciante. A majority of tracks are rhythmically stunning, let alone the guitar solos that get ripped every other song. Flea as well increases the enjoyability of every song via incredible slap bass playing.
The best song on the record, “Eddie,” is a perfect example of this. A tribute to the late Eddie Van Halen is an emotional masterpiece that is some of the best music the band has put out in the last decade. The track almost reaches six minutes and is filled with references from Van Halen songs examining all the rock star accomplished over his long career.
“Tippa My Tongue,” is also filled with nostalgia as it sounds like something that could have been off of 1991’s “Blood Sugar Sex Magik.” Lead singer Anthony Kiedis spews off nonsensical lyrics on the verses and impressively sings on the chorus. The track is amusing but once again Frusciante’s guitar riffs help elevate it.
Tracks like “My Cigarette” sound sonically unique from other songs utilizing a more electronic palette. Lyrically, it might be one of the most confusing songs of all time, but is pretty entertaining.
The nostalgic elements of the record can both help and hurt it. Sometimes Kiedis’ lyrics can come off as meaningful and insightful, other times they have no value. The 75-minute runtime leads many tracks to sound almost the same, making potential decent cuts just sound bland.
The record is also majorly frontloaded. Just a little bit after the halfway point a listener might wonder why some of these songs, like “La La La La La La La La” were even included. This track in particular is just plain boring, there are three or even four more exciting ballads on the record.
Kiedis’ vocal performance is also hit or miss. It is understandable considering he is approaching 60, but he sounds half-asleep on some tracks having potential moments of vulnerability and sensitivity squandered.
Even when the band tries to go loud and more aggressive, it still seems a little bit watered down. Tracks like “Reach Out” could have sounded great twenty years ago, but now fail to leave any impact whatsoever.
Although "Return of the Dream Canteen" is nowhere near as exciting as the band's previous records, it should leave Chili Peppers fans satisfied. It is on par with “Unlimited Love.” There are many highs, a few lows and a lot of tracks that end up in the middle ground.
They have proved that they have the power to release incredible music even at this stage of their career. Also, the band is not done yet saying that they plan on releasing more music soon in the future.
What will it sound like? Probably more of the same, for better or worse.
Reviewers' Favorite Tracks: “Tippa My Tongue,” “Eddie,” “Roulette”
Reviewers' Least Favorite Track: “La La La La La La La La”
Caelan Chevrier is a third-year majoring in marketing. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Third Year / Marketing & Journalism