Red Hot Chili Peppers - Return of the Dream Canteen Music Album Reviews

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Return of the Dream Canteen Music Album Reviews
The funk-rock band’s second album of the year is a surprisingly introspective set filled with references to forgotten actors, classic bands, and, most tellingly, decades-old Chili Peppers songs.

Anthony Kiedis is at the county fair. He’s in your lane. He’s in Baton Rouge, listening to Raw Power. The Red Hot Chili Peppers singer is everywhere at once on Return of the Dream Canteen, but he often sounds like he’d rather be at home, in the quiet, deep in his memories. Like April’s Unlimited Love—and so much of their discography—Dream Canteen is overlong, generous in spirit, inconsistent in execution, and puffed up with fraternal charm. What it lacks is harder to define, though its absence is immediately apparent. Even at their most poignant, the quartet have always sounded like a band drawing inhuman amounts of energy from the world around them. Maybe it’s the three years they spent off the road, maybe it’s the fact that the world doesn’t have much to offer a band so reliant on goofball vapor right now, but for perhaps the first time in their career, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, undefeated in their hearts, sound spooked by life’s long, slow fade.

While the sense of time’s encroachment makes Dream Canteen one of the most theoretically interesting albums in their catalog, it also makes it less compelling than the melancholy highs they brushed on 1999’s Californication and 1995’s underrated One Hot Minute. This is an album that feels like it’s wrapped up in June gloom, even when it’s trying to tell you it’s in a great mood. Those gray L.A. mornings give way to glorious afternoons, but when the fog burns off halfway through the album, Dream Canteen reveals itself as a subdued, surprisingly inward-facing album. It’s as if the fresh start with guitarist John Frusciante, who rejoined the band for a third go-round in 2019, has also prompted a new examination of all the things in life that haven’t been restored. Accordingly, Dream Canteen is populated with forgotten actors, classic bands, and, most tellingly, many lyrical and musical references to decades-old Red Hot Chili Peppers songs. Oftentimes, this most kinetic of bands sounds like they’re sitting down. They sound like they’re wearing shirts.

Whether this works or not is largely dependent on what you expect from the second Red Hot Chili Peppers double album of 2022. Dream Canteen’s 17 songs were recorded in the same sessions as Unlimited Love, and like those tracks, they suffer from the tidiness of Rick Rubin’s production. He keeps the four Peps sealed off from one another at a time when they should sound closer than ever; you could stroll in the space between Frusciante’s guitar and Flea’s bass in “Fake as Fu@k.” Many of the songs on the first half feel like valedictory takes on the band’s earlier styles: See the Mother’s Milk-era “ya-yas” with which Kiedis marks his arrival in “Tippa My Tongue,” a song whose opening drumroll and rolling bassline recall the intro to 2002’s “Can’t Stop.” The latter song pops up again in “Peace and Love,” whose chorus seems to have been written on top of the By the Way single’s.

Kiedis is in “Antoine the Swan” mode throughout the album, revisiting the band’s dormant P-Funk influence implicitly as he sings out of the side of his mouth and explicitly in the “Sir Nose D Voidoffunk” vocal pitch-shifting that opens “Afterlife.” In a cute twist, he tries to convince a love interest not to move to Los Angeles in “Bella,” and in “Tippa My Tongue,” he lays down a smoove melody, singing that he’s here to “pull your hair” in a way that is somehow incredibly sexy, not at all threatening, and a little nostalgic.

While some of these songs can feel regressive or at least undercooked on their own, they’re reframed by the open-hearted sadness that takes over the album’s second half. “My Cigarette” interpolates Lady Gaga’s “Pokerface” chorus over a noir bassline from Flea while Frusciante’s guitar rotates like a ceiling fan slowly turning in a hot room. They flash and flap like Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies in “Carry Me Home,” and Kiedis implores the listener not to “lose sight of this generous plan.” Even when they're trying to celebrate, the Chili Peppers sound exhausted by grief. Dead musicians show up often: Layne Stayley, Kiedis’ godfather Sonny Bono, possibly Bradley Nowell. Eddie Van Halen gets a whole song in his honor, though the seasick loneliness of the solo Frusciante rips through the song’s second half is a better tribute to Funkadelic’s Eddie Hazel.

As always, the lyric sheet has more proper-noun-driven non-sequiturs than the average Family Guy episode (Who can say what the Dodgers pulling off a double play has to do with the rest of “The Drummer”?), but it’s occasionally possible to hear them as Kiedis’ way of getting around saying what he wants to say directly, or as a way of acknowledging that direct language can't capture the exuberance he feels. When it works, it can be strangely touching. Over percolating clouds of synth in “La La La La La La La La,” he promises his lover, “You’ll be Chong and I’ll be Cheech.” It’s a ridiculous lyric in an otherwise tender song, but its placement suggests that this is simply who he is and singing this way to his audience is a kind of intimacy.

Despite a few experiments—Josh Johnson’s halting sax solo in “My Cigarette,” the minimalist house percussion of “In the Snow”—Dream Canteen doesn’t represent a new direction, nor does it find the band taking the kinds of stylistic risks of the earlier Frusciante and Dave Navarro eras. It can feel chalky, its silliness toned down but not turned off; it makes these songs seem a touch distant and distracted. Not all legendary bands get the chance to age, and of all the groups in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, perhaps only their heroes in Van Halen and Parliament-Funkadelic have had to work as hard at carrying their wackiness into old age. While neither of those bands were able to turn their brilliant live shows into a legacy-consolidating late-career album, the Chili Peppers do have the creative and emotional capability to do so. Like Unlimited Love, Return of the Dream Canteen is not that album, but it does show the funky monks keeping the faith in their unquenchable spirit.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Return of the Dream Canteen Music Album Reviews Red Hot Chili Peppers - Return of the Dream Canteen Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on October 26, 2022 Rating: 5


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