The second flight of tracks from April’s Unlimited Love sessions, Return of The Dream Canteen fits neatly as its predecessor’s reflective mellower sibling. With few radio-ready hits to speak of, the Chili Peppers compile a lengthy set of subdued tracks heavy with Anthony Kiedis’s odd lyrical musings and John Frusciante’s impressive guitar passages.
With musical references to the band’s turn of the century efforts, “Tippa My Tongue” drumrolls into a funky lookback of Peppers hits past, and along with the bass-driven “Peace and Love,” the first two tracks come as close to their iconic funk-punk sound as listeners will find on the album. “Fake as Fu@k” and “Carry Me Home” build success around a similar progression joined with Frusciante’s inspired playing, and there are a couple great bridges/transitions on “Bella” and “Bag of Grins.”
As the title suggests, a hazy, dreamlike languor hangs over much of the set in part due to Kiedes’s dense prose and the laidback tempos. This works well for many of the songs, but for tracks like “Shoot Me a Smile,” “La la la la la la la la,” and “Copperbelly,” the lyrics are almost all there is to offer. Return of The Dream Canteen shines in places, but drags in others, begging the question as to whether RHCP’s latest studio foray should have been trimmed to make one great album instead of two good ones.