Artist: The Red Hot Chili Peppers
Album: Stadium Arcadium
Comments: One of my theories about music: Stadiums are where rock bands go to die. Now, don’t misunderstand my intention here, I don’t mean to say that once a band starts playing stadium sized concerts that they aren’t good anymore, or that they’ve lost their integrity, or anything like that (although, these two things can sometimes be true). What I mean is that for rock and roll bands, there is no retirement home or pension plan, but there are stadiums and reunion tours and farewell tours and the state of New Jersey. Bands get good, then they get old, then they tour stadiums (and occasionally make albums that have no chance of relevance to play on said tours); that is just the way rock music works. There is no shame in it, and any musician would be insanely lucky to get to that point in their career.
One of my other theories about music: double albums are generally boring, overwrought, bloated failures. Once again, do not misinterpret. There are some very important, very excellent double albums out there (The White Album is the best example and first to mind). However, for every White Album, there are 200 more “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” albums out there with a few standouts and a lot more that should have been left on the cutting room floor. The vast majority of double albums are nothing more than indecisive artists spending too much time in the studio.
Now, why even bring up these two theories? Because the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ new album “Stadium Arcadium” stands in the direct path of both these theories and (in my mind) proves both my points. The follow-up to 2002’s “By The Way” shows the Peppers aging with grace, but suffering from indulgence.
The long walk begins with the hit single “Dani California” in which Anthony Kiedis sings “California, rest in peace.” One can only hope that this statement signifies the end of all California themed songs and albums as the Pepper’s obsession with their home state was getting a little out hand. The single is a good rocker for the summer, regardless of how much it sounds like “Last Dance with Mary Jane” by Tom Petty. It starts off the album with an energy that the Peppers can’t seem to find again in the next 26 tracks.
It’s common knowledge that the Peppers are an intensely talented band, and there are plenty of songs that allow each member to shine individually. Examples of John Frucsiante’s guitar virtuosos and Flea’s bass chops are on literally every song. Sadly, great musicans can still make bad songs. A lot of stuff on this album sounds like the same song over and over again, and it doesn’t matter how good of a musician you are; if you play the same songs over and over again, people will still get bored. There is just to much music here without enough variation. And when the songs do vary, the tend to suck. Example: the forced funk of “Hump De Bump” sounds stale and false.
The real shame here is that in between all the songs that sound exactly like “Californication” (which is about ¾ of the album) there are some real good songs. “Torture Me” is a punk number that almost matches the energy of “Dani California”. “Warlocks” is as close to the wild old early 90s that the Peppers come on this album. The song “Wet Sand” would have made an excellent “Under the Bridge” type ballad, but instead the Peppers decided to take it over the top with continuing build until it all explodes in one rock-and-roll-sonic-boom breakdown. It’s indulgent, but still charming.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for the rest of the album. What I hear on this record is the sound of a band ageing gracefully. The Red Hot Chili Peppers sound like they are ready for the stadium treatment that is entitled to all veteran rock acts. However, rather than usher in this era with a simple yet powerful statement, we are given a rotting corpse of an album; too long to be enjoyed by anyone but the biggest fan or the most patient saint. There are some really good songs on this album that the young Peppers would have never been able to make, but most of it is the kind of music that the young Peppers would never have wanted to make.
Rating: 4 out of 10. If this were one album, then I think it would have gotten somewhere around a 6.5 or 7, so I rounded up a little bit.
Key Tracks: "Dani California" "Tortrue Me" "Wet Sand" "21st Century"
Worth The Money: Only for diehards
Note: No guest today, but later this week We'll be getting reviews from a singer songwritter revied on this very website, a drummer from the only lo-fi noise punk band worth hearing, and a man whose got his fingers in so many pies that...well...I don't know how to finish that comparison, but he's connected. Stay tuned...