Back in the 70′s, the music scene was infamous for the double-album. The self-indulgent result from overly-productive bands, many times resulting in epic crap.
It’s seems that history repeats itself; first the Foo Fighters and now the Red Hot Chili Peppers are doing the double-album dance. Unlike the albums of the seventies and sadly the Foo Fighters; the Chili Peppers pull it off (for the most part.)
Stadium Arcadium is the name and “bringing back the funk” is the game; or at least that is what the Chili Peppers claim. The album is spread out on to two discs “Jupiter” and “Mars”, and even though they are named after planets. There is no space theme, in fact, there is no theme at all.
The album kick starts itself with the first track (and hit single) “Dani California.” It is a feel good song that has a “southern” rock vibe which is climaxed by guitarist John Frusciante’s trademark solo.
Then, “Snow (Hey Oh)” hits, and the listener is brought into full By The Way mode. It’s a good, but safe mid-tempo song that could have been better. Next up, we have “Charlie.” The first “funk” song on this record, though instead of sounding like “old-school” Chili Peppers, it sounds more like 70′s P-funk (which- isn’t a bad thing.)
After being teased with a little funk, the album mellows out again with the beautiful but melancholy title track. It then hits the funk gear again with “Hump de Bump.” This track oozes vintage-Chili Peppers, from the nonsensical lyrics “Hump de bump doop bodu”, to Flea’s rapid bass- slapping, Chad’s no bullshit drumming, and the percussive bridge. This song conjures up the soul of their album Freaky Styley.
After the fun and funk of “Hump de Bump,” we get the bizarre “She’s only 18.” The song starts out sounding like it came straight out of Blood Sugar Sex Magick. It does take a strange alt-metal sound with the chorus, which sounds a little out of place. The album then again mellows out with “Slow Cheetah”, only to speed back up with the Joy-Divisionesque “Torture Me”, only to mellow back out for “Strip My Mind” and “Especially In Michigan.”
“Warlocks” brings back the funk, though strangely comes off pretty casual and not as energetic as say “Hump de Bump.” The first disc then ends on a very mellow note with “C’mon Girl,” “Wet Sand,” and ”Hey.” “Wet Sand” is the standout with a very Hendrixesque sound.
After the first disc held (though not as funky as I hoped), the second starts off even stronger. It starts with the epic ballad “Desecration Smile.” It then goes into the funky “Tell Me Baby,” with a killer verse and an even better chorus; which has a sound that’s mildly reminiscent of New wave bands like New Order.
The song “Hard to Concentrate” slows things down a little. With lyrics that are essentially a marriage proposal. (Singer, Anthony Kiedis, wrote them for Flea when he asked his girlfriend to marry him.), and some unique guitar lines that make this song very memorable.
Unfortunately the next two tracks, “21st Century” and “She Looks To Me,” aren’t as memorable. Then things are kicked into high-gear with the hard-rock gem “Readymade.” The intro and verse sound very similar to Jane’s Addiction’s “Mountain Song”, but the chorus, screaming-guitar- solo and bridge make up for that.
The next tracks “If,” “Make You Feel Better,” “Animal Bar,” and “So Much I” all blend together with interchangeable verses, though the choruses on each song stand out to some degree. Then, out of nowhere, the Peppers bring back the nostalgia with “Storm In A Teacup”. Which sounds like it could be a lost recording from the One Hot Minute era.
Unfortunately, the following two tracks “We Believe” and “Turn It Again” suffer from the interchangeable verse problem. Then there is the final track “Death Of A Martian”; while the lyrics are touching (It’s about Anthony Kiedis’ dog who died.); it is the weakest track on the whole record. Not the best note to end on.
The biggest weakness with this album is it’s horribly disorganized. There is no continuity from track to track. Instead of separating the up-beat tracks from the ballads onto separate discs they’re all jumbled together. which dramatically takes away from the listening experience.
The other major weakness with the album is the filler. While there are no bad tracks, some tracks just don’t really stand out on their own. The best tracks on this album are amazing and when compared to the lesser ones, it really hurts the quality of the entire album. The Peppers really should of cut an addition five songs from this album (originally there were 36 songs.). If there were only 22 or 23 tracks, it would have evened it out.
Despite the negative aspects, there are many things to praise about this album. The arrangements and layers of sound that guitarist John Frusciante came up with for this album are amazing. He is truly a genius and the center of the Peppers creative force. Without him they would still be four guys with socks on their cocks.
Songs like “Dani California” and “Stadium Arcadium” are this albums greatest strengths. When Stadium Arcadium is at its best, it’s breathtaking. When it’s at its worst, it’s still good. Despite its flaws it’s still a great album and when you compare it to the utter shit that is out now (like Fallout Boy or Greenday) this album is a masterpiece.
If you don’t have any Chili Pepper albums this is the album to buy. It is in a way a musical history of the band, and even though it has serious flaws I have no doubt that this album will one day become a classic.
Rating: 8 out of 10.