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They say you can't go home again. And yet, the Red Hots have not only reteamed with guitarist John Frusciante, with whom they enjoyed their biggest success in the early '90s, but they've created an album that's an homage to California. Fine. But in the time then and now, they've upped the ante; One Hot Minute, an uneven but potent album, was marked by the band's strongest songwriting to date and the fiery guitar of ex-Jane's Addiction axman Dave Navarro. In comparison most of the new one seems sparse, and a bit of a step backward. The title track, melds a strong, simple melody to one of Anthony Kiedis' more comprehensible lyrics, creating a sad, dreamy Hollywoodland ode to sex, eternal youth, and the silver screen. Elsewhere, though, Californication suffers from too much filler. It's as if Kiedis scribbles ideas down on cocktail napkins, and then, rather than develop them into actual songs, he simply leaves them as is. In "I Like Dirt," he muses, "Some come slow and overload/ Must roll over when you're told/ Let's unzip and let's unfold." Whatever. If he couldn't write better stuff, maybe it wouldn't matter. But he has and it does.

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