One of the more important aspects of a bandís new release that keeps the desperation instilled in fans is the factor of anticipation in between the bandís releases. Example- The Red Hot Chili Peppers. The funk rock band knows enough about expectation since their last release of By The Way, in 2002. It is now May ninth, 2006. The interval between their last album has been four years. Four years- one thousand, four hundred and sixty days. Sounds a bit more elongated, doesnít it? Since the band ventured into the studio about eighteen months ago, they intended on releasing a new, single disc, hour-long album. The results doubled in a matter of weeks, when nearly forty five songs where written, and narrowed down to twenty-eight. A double album was being produced. This double album had originally sought to be a triple release, with each album being released in subsequent six month intervals. Being narrowed down to an all-at-once double album was enough discontentment for the band. Having such an epic production in the works for the Red Hot Chili Peppers meant an outlandish atmosphere for it. And with that being said, Stadium Arcadium was birthed. With an album that was going to be hyped this much, it only made sense to make the theme behind it relevant to space. Thus the two discs were named for two of the astrophysical planets, Jupiter and Mars. After the bandís latest single, Dani California was released on April third, a massive fan base grew for an album that was not even released yet, and only one song had been released to the general public. That should say something about this recordís release. Band members themselves have been blatantly confident about Stadiumís release.
Originally Posted by Flea
"If you don't like this record, you don't like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Period."
Michael Balzary seems rather confident about the release of the album. Producer Rick Rubin and various sound engineers have labeled the album as being ďAll out dirty/ painfully retarded funk." The hype amongst socially interactive websites, such as Myspace, has boosted the anticipation of this album to heights that rival the release of the Arctic Monkeys debut in Great Britain (this is a hyperbole, and not to be taken seriously. It is simply a word of mouth that is meant to contribute to the presence of this album among American pop culture before it has been released.) The band themselves have stated on numerous occasions that they believe Stadium Arcadium to be their personal magnum opus, and the single most creative thing they have ever coincided on. These statements alone should be enough for you to buy the album.
Yet there is a certain doubt among fans of the band that are not swayed by the hype. An internet leak, which has many fans disappointed, has ruined the expectancy of the albumís release, as well upsetting the band themselves. Flea, in particular, has responded to the internet leak several times through his ďFlea mail" on the bandís official website. The reaction is somewhat of a discouragement to the bandís confidence, and a blow to the production of the record.
Sure enough, Stadium Arcadium is rather a masterpiece of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The music is catchy as hell, and very funky, no matter what the tempo is set to. Lyrically, Anthony Kiedis is at a more cynical level than By the Way, but nowhere near capturing the raw funk of Blood Sugar Sex Magik or Motherís Milk. There are no sexual entendres or innuendos that blatantly stand out, but there is an intimacy between Kiedis and the listener that has not been presented on any of the Chiliís albums previous to Stadium Arcadium. Anthonyís lyrics are abstract enough to provide a nonsensical appreciation for nonfigurative music, yet descriptive enough to provide understanding of feeling and gratuity of narration. Since Kiedis was an avid poet and fan of poetry, some of his lyrics are directly personal and cherished by close ones, while others are as intangible and raw as ďCanít Stop". One very enigmatic aspect of the Jupiter disc would be the lyrical content of the single, Dani California. It is the continuation of the development of Dani, a [teenage mother] character personified since the release of Californication through each of the sub sequential singles. This is a very pleasing detail, in my honest opinion, because it shows Anthonyís ability to develop abstract characters within the music, without corrupting the vibe and plot of the bandís music. Another well done facet would be Kiedisí capability to write incredibly catchy, and feel-good choruses, and delivering upbeat, hip hop like verses with a sound that has brought rapture to his fans. Vocally, Kiedis is at his most content and mature, blending his dirty rapping with melodic singing, and fully taking initiative of what his voice resembles and its integral role as the Chili Pepperís faÁade.
Maybe you have noticed this detail as well, but with every album and release, the Chili Pepperís overall sound progresses to more dark and rock-oriented sound. This is not an exception to Stadium Arcadium. The sound has become much more mature than previous records, yet bringing back more funk and blues influences. If I had to compare this to a prior album, I would call it a mix between Blood Sugar Sex Magik and Californication. It is a true hybrid of dirty, bubbly funk, and the more melodic rock aspects of The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Meanwhile, one major characteristic of the bandís previous sound has been altered- the importance of the guitar. In the past, John Frusciante has been a very foundational part of the sound, yet his riffs and playing have taken a backseat to the bass/drum grooves of Chad Smith and Flea. Stadium Arcadium makes Johnís presence as a guitarist much more integral, strutting his skills as a melodically gifted songwriter and soloist. Flea and Chad have an undying presence in the mix, but John has been given the full potential to shine as a guitarist on Stadium Arcadium. The groove that the album, and Johnís playing, possesses is almost perfect. Chad and Flea keep a steady, head bobbing groove going, while John adds the simple, yet textured chords and riffs above them, while Anthony, as radically poetic as he is, intimately connects with the listener. The deep groove of the album is almost enough to provide the space theme of the album, because Fleaís fluid, bubbling basslines are grooving enough to put you into a trance. Johnís solo ability is soaring on the album, as his work stands out on nearly every track. The funk sound of the album is indeed a very raw sound, yet possesses a softness that does not get too out of hand. John and Fleaís intertwined, yet separate interplay between guitar and bass is by far at its best. The pure raw quality of the musicianship and the grade A production quality makes Stadium Arcadiumís sound quality second to none by the Chiliís standards.
The juxtaposition of styles of all the Chiliís previous experimentations are quite a listen. The sounds range from dirty blues rock (Readymade), to acoustic strummed folk (Slow Cheetah), feel good funk rock (Snow, Charlie) Jam-band style rock (Dani California), the dirty funk that hyped the album in the first place (Warlocks, 21st Century, Storm in a Teacup) to even an almost dark, psychedelic sound (Wet Sand) that Dave Navarro brought to the band on One Hot Minute. The combination of different sounds and sardonic concurrence of genres is enough to make any fan orgasm. The appearance of guest musicians as well, like Omar Rodriguez-Lopez on guitar (Especially In Michigan) and Billy Preston on electric keyboards (Warlocks) vary the album enough so you do not grow bored of one disc and immediately switch to the other.
Yet, no matter how beautiful this double disc epic may be, fault and error haunts this album with mediocrity. The slower songs, title track included, can grow very tedious and boring to listen to, lacking a catchy hook, or modification within the music that dulls your mind, making it comparable to hold music on a telephone operator line. The acoustic writing on the album, is, for the most part, sub par, and couldíve been listened to in a shorter amount of time, which leads me to what could be the most bothersome deficiency of Stadium Arcadium- the song lengths. Most of the songs on here exceed four minutes in length, which is nice for the majority, but is very aggravating for the dragged out, slower songs where the tempo does not change, and turning the music off seems plausible. Another very large flaw in the record would be the song choice for each disc. It is only really a matter of opinion, but it seems as though all of the filler was packed onto the Jupiter disc, while Mars is almost free of error, making my listening choices easy to decipher the bad from the good. With the exception the funkier tracks such as Warlocks, Especially in Michigan, Sheís Only 18, etc., you will find most of the dragged out filler on Jupiter.
One thousand, four hundred and sixty days the Red Hot Chili Pepperís have spent writing and producing Stadium Arcadium. Four years have they dragged on the process of songwriting and killing the patience of their fans with this album. They have poured their blood, sweat, and tears into what they believe is their most masterful oeuvre. The question is, not whether they like it or not, but what their fan base believes. The band has experienced enough turmoil throughout their career to know what hardship is, and all they have learned in the past has succumbed into one double disc record. I must hop on the hyped bandwagon now, and say of all their work, this has been the most rewarding to listen to, as it fully analyzes how the band has come to terms with their sound, for better or for worse.
+ Excellent juxtaposition of early RHCP funk and melodic rock styles.
+ John Frusciante's guitar work is mind melting
+ Blends excellent musicianship with solid songwriting fundamentals.
- If and We Believe
- An acquired taste for most fans.
?- Why the hell did they narrow their songs down to a double album? The subsequential release of three single albums would be much more interesting.
Tell Me Baby
She's Only 18
Turn It Again
Snow (Hey Oh)