Review Summary: Funkrock's Party Boys Finally Settle Down. . .
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Stadium Arcadium
Way back in 1995, the Red Hot Chili Peppers made music their aeroplane. The lead single from album "One Hot Minute" put it in no uncertain terms: "Just one note could make me float away", lead wailer Anthony Kiedis sang. "Just one note could cut my throat - one note could make me die." Drug-tinged and profane, the song was as accessible as any song the band had ever released. "I like pleasure spiked with pain", the relapsed addict sang. And so did we.
What Kiedis didn't add is that the Peppers also want to make music your
aeroplane. And eleven short years later, ambitious double-disc project "Stadium Arcadium" aims to reduce your turbulence as much as possible.
Stadium Arcadium is not a mindblowing double album. Neither is it an instant rock classic or a record to show off to your friends. It feels more like a smoothed-out summation of the group's work than a record itself - almost like a greatest hits record you've never heard. Nearly every second in Stadium Arcadium is filled with reminders of the group's proficiency - John Frusciante's excellent guitar work, Flea's excellent bassplaying, and Anthony Kiedis's simple-yet-strangely-endearing vocals. It's an absolutely solid rock record. Nearly every song is catchy and low-tempo. You will find yourself enjoying each and every song on the album though you can see nearly every turn coming. The choruses are catchy, the verses bounce along nicely, and the lyrics are just as stream-of-consciousness and obnoxious as ever.
This double album is not particularly experimental, and few songs set themselves apart. The band downplays their funkier side, focusing on soaring ballads and falsetto background vocals. The instrumental work is more subdued than on previous albums. John Frusciante's guitar-playing is proficient as ever but not quite as exciting.
Part of this is that there is just so much to digest. The first disc (called "Jupiter") alone boasts fourteen tracks and four certified hit singles. In retrospect each song has its own identity, but after the first playthrough I was hardpressed to name a single track other than the opener: hit single "Dani California." The second disc ("Mars") underwhelms slightly but is comparable to the first. How the band could release so much music at once astounds me.
But I've never once thought that this record needed editing. Due to its length and consistent quality it's a great record to leave on as background music. It's instantly-accessible and rewarding music. Though I wish it was a little more challenging and eclectic, it's hard to fault its charms.
Despite my minor complaints. the fact that this band recorded twenty-eight catchy, tightly-crafted and intensely-likeable rock songs and released them on one album makes me happy. There's hardly a low spot on the album. Yes, it's more subdued and less exciting than previous releases. Yes, much of it sounds the same.
But what a wonderful sameness it is.
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