Stadium Arcadium

Stadium Arcadium

The ninth album from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 2006’s Stadium Arcadium, is a massive buffet featuring everything the band does well—a two-hour, four-LP victory lap from one of the biggest bands in the land. After nearly 25 years of vacillating between being madcap funk-punkers, art-metal misfits, tender modern-rock balladeers, and psychedelically charged pop icons, the Red Hot Chili Peppers finally just threw it all into the stew and emerged with their first No. 1 album. With 28 tracks run that run the gamut from sensitive to sleazy, Stadium Arcadium is an embarrassment of riches for longtime Peppers fans. But there’s something here for every fan, no matter when they joined the Rockinfreakapotamus hive. Recorded at the same Laurel Canyon mansion where the group birthed its 1991 smash Blood Sugar Sex Magik, the 28 songs on Stadium Arcadium together play like a career-spanning anthology, even though it’s all new material. The Peppers had spent 1999’s Californication and 2002’s By the Way surfing the airwaves with modern-rock anthems that prioritized melody over rump-shaking. But Stadium Arcadium songs like the horn-soaked “Hump de Bump,” the Funkadelic-tinged “She’s Only 18,” and the cartoony “Storm in a Teacup” (with its response call of “Whoop-tay-whoop-tay-get-ta-galla-goop-tay”) could have been spawned from the 1985 Freaky Styley sessions with George Clinton. Meanwhile, “Charlie” and “Warlocks”—the latter of which features legendary soul sideman Billy Preston on clavinet—sound like the taut grooves of the Blood Sugar era. And were it not for John Frusciante’s trademark harmonies, the S&M-metal crunch of “Torture Me” and “Readymade” could have been outtakes from 1995’s chugging One Hot Minute. There are quieter moments here, of course. The gentle love song “Hard to Concentrate” and the folk-centric “If” are some of the most sensitive ballads these party animals have ever produced. But much of Stadium Arcadium finds the band perfecting an approach that had allowed them to spend the early 2000s filling stadiums: loose grooves, huge choruses, and songs that tackle survival and rebirth—an approach that yielded such Stadium hits as “Dani California,” “Tell Me Baby,” and “Snow (Hey Oh).” By 2006, the Chili Peppers had been through a dizzying amount of changes in sound. Stadium Arcadium puts them all under one stomping, swooning, soaring, shimmying roof.

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