Red Hot Chili Peppers
Return of the Dream Canteen
If early 2022’s Unlimited Love was Red Hot Chili Peppers’ return to tight, fighting, funk-punk form with guitarist/songwriter John Frusciante and producer Rick Rubin by its side (“it” being co-founders Anthony Kiedis and Flea with longtime drummer Chad Smith) after a decade-plus of being MIA, this autumn’s Return of the Dream Canteen is its more languid, jamming, psychedelic sister—a feline, Hendrix-ian double-album more elastic than its months-old immediate predecessor, and more spacious than anything since Californification.
Called a hook-filled “gumbo” by drummer Smith, Canteen singles such as the quick, clattering “Tippa My Tongue” and the quartet’s tribute to Van Halen and the Sunset Strip scene both bands shared, “Eddie,” are curt, emotional works filled with Kiedis’ best lust-for-life reminiscing with nary a hint of the singer’s pirate brogue used across the limits of Unlimited Love. So, too, is “Fake as [email protected]” the type of crisp, Rubin-rok, ’90s-worthy, snare-skin-tight anthem worth its weight in give-it-away-give-it-give-it-away-yeahs.
After that, however, Canteen’s nocturnal chimera begins to take over with happy daydream conceits, flights of P-punk fantasy and grooving, atmospheres of hallucination, and figments of their imagination less real than the fantastic LA of their past. While “Roulette” and “My Cigarette” could be the missing links between the Beat Generation and Gen Z with its caffeinated Kiedis poetics and squirrelly jazz-kink guitars, “La La La La La La La La” and “Peace and Love” ride a hairy-hippie vibe this close to San Franciscan psych. This is as good a place as any to mention that giving guitarist Frusciante two full discs in which to jive, juke, and fly is an exceptional experiment of monumental proportions—and you can tell Kiedis also loves the room to roam.
As with Unlimited Love, what drives the dreaminess of this expansive album—recorded during the same sessions as its predecessor—is the sense of five longtime friends (six, if you include shared engineer Ryan Hewitt) thinking as one unit, a brotherhood forging a moment whose only real connection in this gumbo is its dedication to one big flavor. And no matter how many chunks of meat and clunks of rhythm are part of this stew, Return of the Dream Canteen is spiced precisely to Red Hot Chili Pepper-y taste.