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Red Hot Chili Peppers - Stadium Arcadium

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stadium Arcadium

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

IT MAY have been four years since the release of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ last studio album, By The Way but the wait has been worth it.

For California’s favourite sons have unleashed a 28-track double album that delivers a veritable tour-de-force for fans.

Stadium Arcadium offers nothing groundbreaking or innovative in terms of the Peppers sound – but it’s just a really good listen. Evidence of a band that’s very much at the peak of their form and clearly loving what they do.

This is born out by the sheer volume of tracks on the record which, by Anthony Kiedis’ own admission, came as a surprise.

“We set out to write 13 songs,” he explains. “But as has been the case every time we’ve tried to do that, we ended up with 30-some-odd songs. The difference this time was we ended up liking all of those songs and finishing all of those songs, and it actually became a very difficult process to even whittle it down to 28.”

The most remarkable thing about Stadium Arcadium’s 28 tracks, however, is that there is barely a dud among them.

Sure, some appear to be on auto-pilot – as evidenced by the familiar sound of lead single Dani California – but occasionally it’s just nice to sit back and relax with an established sound that you love.

In terms of providing that all-glowing sunshine vibe, there are few better acts than the Chili Peppers.

Kiedis’ trademark slacker rap is revisited on several occasions here, as is his ability to deliver a smooth, catchy chorus, but it’s the guitar work of John Frusciante that really gets the biggest workout here – shifting through just about every gear imaginable, from mellow soft-rock to crunching rock.

Given that it takes over two hours to listen – and probably six to eight to properly appreciate – picking out favourites is something of a long process.

But of the prime cuts to savour, Snow (Hey Oh) delivers some genuinely catchy hooks and an effortless glow that’s built around the easy-going “hey oh’s” of the chorus.

Hump de Bump is a funky performer, built around short, snappy riffs and another insanely catchy chorus that’s destined to go down a storm live.

Especially in Michigan, meanwhile, boasts some classic American rock riffs, as well as a trademark softer chorus, while the supremely lively Tell Me Baby is signature Chili Peppers at its very best (and almost certainly a single in waiting).

The band’s softer side is fully in evidence on the slow-building Hard To Concentrate, in which Kiedis sings “all I want is for you to be happy”, while If drops some beautifully simply riffs from the mercurial Frusciante (and continues the sentimental vibe).

Peppers fans seeking tracks to rival the intensity and sheer breakneck energy of earlier work such as Give It Away will get their just rewards from Readymade and Storm In A Teacup.

While there’s a shimmering element to the electronic flourishes that accompany the enchanting Animal Bar which then heads into all sorts of different directions – all of them pleasantly surprising.

It’s worth noting that Stadium Arcadium was produced by Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, System Of A Down) and written in the same house in the Hollywood Hills where they recorded 1991’s groundbreaking, multi-platinum album BloodSugarSexMagik.

While not as seminal as that album, this ninth studio offering is a towering achievement that offers a really great listen. It confirms that the Peppers are hotter than ever at the moment.

Track listing:
Disc: 1

  1. Dani California
  2. Snow (Hey Oh)
  3. Charlie
  4. Stadium Arcadium
  5. Hump de Bump
  6. She’s Only 18
  7. Slow Cheetah
  8. Torture Me
  9. Strip My Mind
  10. Especially in Michigan
  11. Warlocks
  12. C’mon Girl
  13. Wet Sand
  14. Hey

Disc: 2

  1. Desecration Smile
  2. Tell Me Baby
  3. Hard to Concentrate
  4. 21st Century
  5. She Looks to Me
  6. Readymade
  7. If
  8. Make You Feel Better
  9. Animal Bar
  10. So Much I
  11. Storm in a Teacup
  12. We Believe
  13. Turn It Again
  14. Death of a Martian