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MP3 Music, March 9, 2010
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Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers calls the band's first new album in four years, Stadium Arcadium, the most-anticipated album of the spring, "the best thing that we've ever done....There's this weird kind of sublime, subliminal undercurrent that is suggestive, in a spirited way, of our earliest records." Exuding all the passion, energy, and funked-up rock that have made the Red Hot Chili Peppers one of the most popular bands in history, the 2-CD Stadium Arcadium, simply put, will knock your socks off.
Four-year career hiatuses followed by sprawling double-albums could spell trouble for a band of the Chili Peppers' stature: consider they'd originally recorded enough for three discs. The restless, trouble-plagued outfit that helped break alternative rock into the mainstream with a potent fusion of punk 'n' funk in the '80s finds itself two decades on almost completely devoid of the former's energetic abandon, while the latter's effusive rhythms are considerably subdued over the course of this two-hour, 28-track collection. It's not so much that the Peppers have lost their muscular, often uber-macho edge as they have willfully tamed it in service of mature reinvention here. The mellower, often introspective, if no less potent pop ethos that characterized the crossover hit "Under the Bridge" blossoms fully here on tracks like disc one's "Snow," "Wet Sand," and the jazz-cool of "Hey."
The title track, "Desecration Smile," and "She Looks To Me" finds them venturing further into laid back pop ballad territory, while the tricky rhythms of "Dani California," "Charlie," and "So Much I" eventually kick into familiar top gear on the pop-savvy "Tell Me Baby" and hip-hop seasoned "Storm in a Teacup." It's not that there's a paucity of musical adventure here ("If" and "Animal Bar" finds them wafting into Floydish neo-psychedelia while "Make You Feel Better" seems to channel no less than Joe Jackson) but that it's delivered with a subtlety--and dare we say it?--tasteful musical restraint that's a stark contrast to the band's early, overly overt nature. There's perhaps too much mid-tempo simmering and reflection going on; like most double-albums it could be focused into a much more compelling single disc. But that seems largely beside the Peppers' hooks-over-histrionics point here: an unlikely record to kick back to, and one that both challenges assumptions and eases the band into middle age with an oft languorous, if undeniably savory groove. --Jerry McCulley
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For the record, the songs are split into two CD's labeled "Mars" and "Jupiter," and come in a foldable case with a booklet.
The lyrics of Desecration Smile hint at Anthony's difficult withdrawal from drugs, but you can apply them to any mistakes people have made with their behavior.
The track Tell Me Baby has lyrics that serve as the best poem ever about aspiring performers in Los Angeles.
The four band members who worked on Stadium Arcadium clearly have a special bond with each other. I understand why because the two Stadium Arcadium discs allow me to bond with all four of them.
One disc is called Mars. Other is Jupiter. The CD artwork includes beautiful photos of those planets. They match the beauty of the music.
If you never have paid to hear the music of this exquisite band, please start with Stadium Arcadium.
There are so many songs that I enjoy too much. I really like Stadium Arcadium, very beautiful and Kiedis's singing is very good. Death of a Martian is about Flea's dog, Martian, who died. It's the very last song, and the second half of the song is a poem that is rapped. It ends the entire album on the right note while still is a great song in its own right. Wet Sand is also an amazing song. Tell Me Baby is about people coming to LA to become famous musicians, and how that never happens. Most of the other songs are very good, but there are so many of them. There were a couple that I always seemed to think dragged on, especially on such a long album, mostly Slow Cheetah, Warlocks, and Animal Bar. At first I didn't quite like them compared to other songs and almost always wondered, When is this album going to end? or at least, When is this song going to end? They are good. I wasn't too impressed with Charlie, for some reason, and Hump De Bump took a little while to enjoy. Some of the songs, especially in the middle and end of each CD, don't seem to be as strong as the singles and blend together a little.
I feel like the biggest downside to Stadium Arcadium is the double album idea. It's long. To play a double album, you need one and a half or two hours. There are a lot of songs that blend together a little and are easy to forget. And to play all twenty eight, you have to change CDs, which breaks up the ideas of an entire album, played start to finish. Still, this album has shown how far the Chili Peppers have come since their debut self-titled album in 1984. It's a great new sound for the band, which is why these nearly fifty-year-old guys are still so impressive. They have learned how to change for the better and come out with new ideas.