Before I start this review, I'm just going to put it out there – I hate double albums. Well, most double albums anyway. Double albums always seem like a bloated attempt by some band to further increase their egos; “Look what WE did!”… and after a while of listening, it can get to be a bit too much.
The new Red Hot Chili Peppers album, Stadium Arcadium can seem just a bit too much. Maybe it was because I listened to both discs through and through without any breaks. Regardless of this fact, I noticed something whilst listening; I began to feel like I was in some sort of coma. I was pulled into the world of Stadium Arcadium for those two hours and when the album was over, I still felt as though I was in that world.
Of course, a review can't really be a review if it's all positive, right? We here on planet Earth like to play Negative Nancy occasionally and nitpick the faults. So here it is: Stadium Arcadium is too much. It's RHCP overload. Don't get me wrong, Stadium Arcadium is a brilliant album but it shouldn't have to span two discs and two hours to make that point.
Let's get to the things that make this album brilliant. The funk is back! Stadium Arcadium serves up the funk that was missing in 2002's By The Way. There's “Hump De Bump” with it's Freaky Styley opening to it's awesome jazzy percussion, “She's Only 18” spilling the sex appeal that was found on Mother's Milk and “Storm in a Teacup” which believe it or not, sounds like it would have been at home on 1995's One Hot Minute.
Stadium Arcadium is not as heavy as say, BloodSugarSexMagik. However, there is one track that injects the hair swinging rock that fans are going to love – “Readymade”. With an awesome guitar solo by John Frusciante and pounding drums by Chad Smith, this song would be one of the highlights if ever played in concert.
Front man Anthony Kiedis stated that he would most like to sing with John Frusciante out of anyone in music history and in this album, you can see why. Their voices greatly compliment each other. When Kiedis is singing, Frusciante is heard in the background with his trademark high vocals or doo woop influenced singing. Their collaboration is on show in such tracks as the swirling rock of “Turn It Again”, the slow funk of “Charlie” and the much calmer “Hey.”
Did anyone ever think the same man we saw sing a dangerously off-key take of “Soul to Squeeze” in the 1991 documentary Funky Monks would be singing beautifully in 2006? Stadium Arcadium sees Kiedis reach a new high with his ever-improving vocals. I thought it was impossible for a 43 year old to improve after a 20-year career but obviously not. Kiedis has the ability to send shivers up your spine with the By The Way influenced songs such as "Wet Sand" and "Slow Cheetah".