Note: If you don’t already like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, this album will not convert you. If, however, you have at any point in their lengthy careers dug these guys, then you should already be listening to the album.
In the last 20 years, few bands have evolved as much as the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Consider that of the bands that were around 20 years ago, few are still together, and fewer still have produced anything worthwhile. Who would have guessed that RHCP’s snotty anthem “Nevermind”, which called on listeners to “Nevermind the Wham Wham Band/ Nevermind Duran Duran” would prove to be true.
Stadium Arcadium represents a wide retrospective of the band’s career, going from 2002’s By the Way backwards. Some reviewers have argued that this album doesn’t go all the way back, but if you listen to Hump deBump and try telling me you don’t hear echoes of Freaky Styley, I’ll call you a goddamn liar.
For any fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, this album is a goldmine. Like the simpler, mellower riffs of Californication and the harmonies of By the Way? It’s here. Prefer the older, funkier stuff of Mother’s Milk and Blood Sugar Sex Magik? Check. Hell, there’s even something for those of you who miss Anthony Kiedis’ sex raps (She’s Only 18).
Musically, this band is unparalleled, and John Frusciante may be one of the most underrated guitar players of this day. His love of all things musical comes through on this album, and the extent to which he went in mixing this record is impressive.
Flea, the band’s eclectic bassist, proves again why he is one of the best bassists on the planet. This, my friends, is why the bass was created. Listening to this album makes an amateur like myself sit in a mixture of despair that I’ll never be even half that good and inspiration to keep trying. The combination of Flea and drummer Chad Smith makes for the best rhythm section this side of … well, anything.
These are all excellent musicians who are still at the top of their game and haven’t settled into complacency once at the top (I’m looking at you, Slash).
Anthony Kiedis’ rhymes have always been a matter of opinion. He alternates between soulful and nonsensical. But it all fits. That is this album: it all fits, and better than ever before.
The only problem I have with the album is that it is such a retrospective. For someone with a tuned ear to Chili Pepper-ology (yeah, I made up a word, wannafightaboutit?), it’s easy to listen to a song and peg it to a previous period. Whereas previous albums took the band in a new direction, few songs on Stadium Arcadium have the feel of something brand new. It might be time for the band to move on from producer Rick Rubin, who has produced all their albums since Blood Sugar… to someone willing to push them further
Don’t be mistaken, though. This album is a delight to listen to, and anyone who likes the Chili Peppers should definitely pick it up and enjoy.