Red Hot Chili Peppers
Return Of The Dream Canteen
Return Of The Dream Canteen marks the second double album from the Red Hot Chili Peppers this year. Building off the monumental success of Unlimited Love – which dropped in April – and their massive stadium tour that took the band across Europe and North America through the summer, Return Of The Dream Canteen sees the Chili Peppers – reunited with guitarist John Frusciante – deliver a whopping 17 tracks that serve as both the perfect companion and foil to Unlimited Love.
Opening strong with the lead single, “Tippa My Tongue”, the Red Hot Chili Peppers groove on a feel reminiscent of both the hard funk of the early ‘90s and the polish of Stadium Arcadium. The energetic track burns bright as the band revels on a scorching acid funk vibe. Taking a different creative direction, the second single, “Eddie” – a tribute to Eddie Van Halen – is an ambient odyssey of masterful songwriting propelled by Frusciante’s incredible performance, with solos incorporating numerous elements and stylings pioneered by Eddie. It almost shreds, rather, Frusciante demonstrates restraint with a vital take on Van Halen that only he could.
Return Of The Dream Canteen twists and turns where you’d least expect it, all with ease. From the wall of distortion that is the chorus of “Reach Out” to the electronic noir of “My Cigarette”, the moody sludge of “Bag Of Grins” to the reflective and sublime jazz of “La La La La La La La La”, and the Hendrix-inspired blues of “Carry Me Home” to the swaggering “Bella”, there is plenty to celebrate on Return Of The Dream Canteen. At its core, this is a band firing on all cylinders: Frusciante’s guitar is sophisticated and yet, somehow unbridled; Flea’s bass lines are perhaps at their deepest; Chad Smith’s beats are as tight as ever, accented by some larger-than-life fills; while Anthony Kiedis’ vocals and lyrics are gloriously absurd as he ebbs and flows between melodic musings and rhythmic, funky rapping. Rather than phone it in, nearly each song sees the alternative pioneers take risks in their songwriting and performance. 40 years later, and there is still some sense of creative danger – albeit a polished and refined danger – to a Chili Peppers record.
Overall, Return Of The Dream Canteen feels like a less mainstream Unlimited Love. Written and recorded during the same sessions, this is only natural; however, there is an element of creativity and reckless abandon to Return Of The Dream Canteen that sees the pop influence of the sessions – while still present – take a back seat. These aren’t B-sides, nor are they leftovers, instead, Return Of The Dream Canteen is a weirder and far more experimental record. By all means, this is not the album you put out when making a comeback with your long-time guitarist; Unlimited Love demonstrated the Chili Peppers’ dominance of pop culture with a massive return and an album full of potential radio hits. Return Of The Dream Canteen, on the other hand, is a collection of music with creativity for art’s sake as the first priority. Ultimately two sides of the same coin, Return Of The Dream Canteen is a modern take on the dirty, bare bones funk and quirky melodicism the Red Hot Chili Peppers are known for with another latter career highlight that will thrill for its sheer unpredictability and audacity.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – RETURN OF THE DREAM CANTEEN