No Cut, No Line, A Gram for a Dime
I quite like my Glasswerk review of the Chili’s new album, so I’m posting it here.
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Stadium Arcadium
The Chilis are a gem of a band, but that’s not to say that bands that are gems don’t make bad moves, or write bad songs. The prospect of them stretching ‘By The Way’ or ‘Californication’ over two CDs may fill some with pleasure, some with a sense of unease and dread. However, those in the latter camp are probably distressed Nietzsche followers, and the rest of us will thank the timing of this release. Here’s summer (possibly) and here’s a double album from one of those bands to forge their own sound, and stick to it until it seeps into the public sub-consciousness.
Already blessed with a cod-poet lead singer with a marvellous syllabic dexterity and that rare thing, the white funk gene, none of the tracks on this sprawling effort grate at all. Some pass you by like a toke on a summer’s day in a big circle, but some genuinely do grab you and force you to take notice of what’s going on here. AOR is being created that remains edgy by virtue of the Chilis re-moulding their fans expectation of their AOR they naturally expect. If that sounds tautologous or even meaningless, you’ll find yet more fine empty words in the lyrics here. When they’re stretched tight over a beautifully taught rhythm section, it hardly matters. The fact these old ex-stoners, ex-junkies and possibly still surf bums sound as tight as Bloc Party do on ‘Silent Alarm’ is enough to announce with alacricity why this album matters. Tracks that stand out are the single ‘Dani California’, title track ‘Stadium Arcadium’, the intricate ‘Snow ((Hey Oh)), ‘Torture Me’, the amazing ‘Readymade’, the funky and bouncy ‘21st Century’ and … well, it’s time to start a new sentence. ‘Make You Feel Better’ starts like a track from the ‘Up The Bracket’, only it’s radio friendly, funky, important and insipidly alike to the rest of their back catalogue – all at the same time. As I say, the Chilis are a gem of a band. ‘Especially In Michigan’ has an attractive spiralling guitar motif, and a fat fuzzed-up chorus, in parts like a happier b-side from ‘Achtung Baby’, until Kiedis kicks back in. ‘Wet Sand’ has a beautiful weight and maturity about it, too.
To sum up, every track is worth a listen – and some are worth several listens, repeated listens until the ‘sense of movement’ that the band talk about on the promo sinks in. It’s a great album for sunny days; distilling this to one disc would have produced an album that was awesome in impact that way that ‘Silent Alarm’ was, but you get the sense that the Chili Peppers enjoy their music too much to aim for that kind of finished product. This is, instead a celebration of work in progress becoming the progress of work, the sway and flow and current of a career and a story as opposed to individual statements of intent.