Clocking in at over 70 minutes – 17 full-length tracks (culled from 50 recorded songs, apparently!), Red Hot Chili Peppers’ twelfth studio album, Unlimited Love, is the first to feature golden-era guitarist John Frusciante since 2006’s chart-topping double album, Stadium Arcadium.

It’s also the first record RHCP have made with producer Rick Rubin in a decade. And the band’s statement accompanying Unlimited Love’s release concludes thusly: “This is our life’s mission. We work, focus, and prepare, so that when the biggest wave comes, we are ready to ride it. The ocean has gifted us a mighty wave and this record is the ride that is the sum of our lives. Thank you for listening, we hope you enjoy it. ROCK OUT MOTHERF-CKERS!”

It’s a welcome return from these Californian funk-rockers and we can’t wait for them to tour our shores once more!

Black Summer
There’s a satisfyingly familiar guitar tone from the get-go on this ‘comeback single’ and then enter Anthony Kiedis’ vocal – hold up, is it just us, or does he sound Irish? Frusciante’s guitar solo is blindingly brilliant, though. “Ridin’ on a headless horse to make the trip (trip, trip, trip, trip)” – echoing vocal effects emphasise trippyness. Black Summer is a promising start.

Here Ever After
Flea’s spidery bass work opens this one, soon joined by a galloping drum pattern, and then Kiedis does some trademark staccato half-rapping that makes you feel like striking karate poses during the verses before switching to lackadaisical singing come the chorus: “She’s the kinda girl who makes you wanna go faster.” The musicianship on display here is, undeniably, awesome.

Aquatic Mouth Dance
OK, how do Flea’s phalanges physically pluck so many notes per second!? And is an Aquatic Mouth Dance an antidote for cotton mouth? Wait, did Kiedis just say “pillow”? Maybe sleep drool happens as a result of Aquatic Mouth Dance? So many questions!  Frusciante’s vocal harmonies sure are tasty during this one. “Where the misfits like to do…” – take us there, please! There’s some cheeky, sneaky brass, which goes postal towards this song’s outro. A (slappin’-da) bass solo – YEUW! We can’t help but picture Flea in his trademark tighty whities – just us?

Not the One
Rhythmic piano chords punctuate slide guitar that evokes seagulls somewhere off in the distance during this melancholy ballad. “I’m not the person that you thought I was…” – we can already imagine fans’ arms swaying in unison at RHCP’s future shows during this number. Wow, those are some glorious BVs towards song’s conclusion.

Poster Child
The album’s second single showcases Kiedis in rapid-fire mode, namechecking musical legends and song titles from eras past with some nonsensical musings thrown in for good measure: “Melle Mel and Richard Hell were dancing at the Taco Bell… The ‘70s were such a win, singing the Led Zeppelin/ Lizzy looking mighty thin, the Thompsons had another twin… Ramones had a lobotomy, so spin me like a pottery” – some of it is clever/pretty cool, but we suspect a rhyming dictionary was heavily involved here. And we definitely draw the line at, “The water bed was taking meds…” – how is that even possible!? 

The Great Apes
Another bass and drums-driven track. Just when you think you’ve got this song all figured out, in comes a soaring, octave-leaping bridge – like a shift in consciousness. Then it’s back to the descriptive, “Sheeeeee’s a…” lyrical phrases. A cymbal-heavy drum breakdown features wailing guitar and sinewy bass. “I just want the great apes to be free-ee!” – don’t we all!

It’s Only Natural
Not a Crowded House cover, this standout song tells the story of a “London girl… pride of all Brixton” falling in love with “a Southend boy” who “sure could fight”, before something sinister seeps in: “But she can’t go home tonight…” There’s a conversational chorus melody and shimmering, metallic guitar riffs offset Flea’s meandering basslines. Cue fadeout.

She’s a Lover
This one’s strutting, sassy and sexy.  “You say you wanted a piece/ Is it for sale or for lease?” – ah, Kiedis is a funny one! The jubilant chorus calls to mind The Cardigans’ irresistible Lovefool (from the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack): “Love me, love me/ Wake up and hug me…” Not so sure about this bit, though: “Please, luv, can I have a taste?/ I just wanna lick your face.”

These Are the Ways
Understated, minimal verses emphasise lyrical content, but then this song explodes with maximum dynamic variation – “These are the ways when you come from America/ The sights, the sounds, the smells” – which could be a song from a musical. Wow! The drumming here is *chef’s kiss* – YAIRS, Chad Smith! – will absolutely go OFF live, this one!

Whatchu Thinkin’
Holy smokes, Flea has actually composed bass parts that sounds like internal dialogue while also perfectly complementing Kiedis’ vocal lines! “Where you go to get your ecstasy?” When this song’s arrangement pars back to show off just Kiedis and Flea in action in this song’s final verse, the impact is astounding. “This Broken Native entity/ Dreaming clean-up on the century.” Then it’s an instrumental stacks-on to close.

Bastards of Light
“Anything at aaaaaaaall… Can I be your first brawl?” – this one is minimal and sinister during verses. “Everyone, I swear, is someone’s daughter…”. But then the choruses are deceptively upbeat: “It feels so good upon a Saturday night when the bastards come to fight…” – sounds to us like a Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting-type theme.

White Braids & Pillow Chair
Another curious song title. Frusciante guitar riffs take centre stage on this one, echoing Kiedis’ vocal line in the bridge, with Flea’s bass still holding it down, but not quite as prominent. “In a Sunday diner, I’m reminded there’s no finer place to kiss/ Than one like this…” – naw, it’s a sweet love song, really.

One Way Traffic
These rapped verses are perfectly contrasted by sung choruses – “Ayo-weyo, would ya be my traffic jam?” – and this track’s arrangement ducks and weaves like a cooked lane hopper negotiating freeway traffic. Something about life being “extra nice when there’s someone to hold”.

Veronica
“My name is Veronica/ I come from the south side of Chi-ca-go…” – verses are in 4/4 time. Then the choruses switch to waltz rhythm (“Danger/ Danger”), as if introducing a subplot in the narrative, and there are some sporadic vocal parts that sound as if they’re delivered underwater – curiouser and curiouser. There’s gotta be some kinda deep backstory to this one.

Let ‘em Cry
“Cry, cry, let ‘em cry/ We don’t need no reason why…” The percussive chorus sure is catchy, but we lyrical content is suss: “Up, up the lover, we got the mother/ Touch up the neighbour, she don’t mind.” Spares brass sound glorious here. “All I know is I feel fine.”

The Heavy Wing
This boppy l’il number will creep up on you. “Tell the whole world to slow down.” There’s a cool, sporadic drum pattern during the verses. Frusciante – sounding a tad Mike Patton-esque – takes lead vocals during the soaring, rockin’ choruses, which enter like divine intervention. Instantly catchy melodies and atmospheric impact – yep, this one’s a choon! A shoo-in for a single.

Tangelo
This one kicks off with just acoustic guitar and vocals, “When I’m with you, I feel like myself,” and – from what we can tell – documents the loss of a loved one. “When I lost you out in that field/My crooked eyes could hardly conceal… Oh, let it go, and now I must pray/ Let’s pray.” This gentle lullaby closes out with transcendental synth morphing into background noise as if directing us to meditate on all that’s come before.