Return of the Dream Canteen
Of all the major rock bands to come out of the ’90s, none have sounded as content to be themselves as the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Written and recorded during the same sessions as April 2022’s Unlimited Love, Return of the Dream Canteen features the same crystalline anthems (“Eddie,” “Roulette,” “The Drummer”) and liberatingly fun funk (“Fake as Fu@k,” “Tippa My Tongue”) they’ve been perfecting for 40 years. But what makes it remarkable is their ability to find variety even within the narrow band of their sound, whether it’s the waltz of “Copperbelly” or the moody, psychedelic “Bag of Grins,” both of which are stranger and more minimal than any other multiplatinum rock artist outside Led Zeppelin. Fans will note the return of guitarist John Frusciante and producer Rick Rubin (also present on Unlimited Love), but with all due respect, it’s beside the point: They serve an institution bigger than any man. In the band’s sparseness, they glimpse the ocean their California hearts can’t deny, and in Anthony Kiedis’ my-name-is-Tony-and-I’m-here-to-say raps an innocence that conjures summer, friendship, and, yes, love. May they never grow up.