Monday, May 22, 2006

Dani the Girl II: Electric Boogaloo

Red Hot Chili Peppers get reflective on their first double LP. Sadly, so do we...

Red Hot Chili Peppers served as a large reason for why I became enamored with the world of music to begin with. In my formative years, songs like "Soul To Squeeze" and the lauded "Under The Bridge" quite predictably provided a much needed solace for an angst-ridden preteen of the completely clueless variety. I can still listen to those tracks (among others) with a considerable amount of enjoyment. Unfortunately, this funk-rock outfit now turned surf-soaked rocking icons mostly touch on a nerve of nostalgia in me as opposed to genuine enjoyment. Their hard-to-generalize early works have been long past dead, but there are parts in me that still wish this hook-heavy safe sound would be more of a background echo, rather than a touchstone style. Oddly, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, arguably the Chili Peppers greatest work, is probably the most responsible for the lazily strung together, rockist, would-be opuses they tend to feel the need to release the last decade or so (give or take a year.)

Stadium Arcadium is a double album (the group's first) that wants to serve as a sweeping trek through the mindsets and genre fusing tendencies that have made the band one of the most popular of its kind. As a continuous work it is surprisingly NON masturbatory, but still aches in the "you should give a shit" department because it is, perhaps, one of the least engaging albums of the Chili Peppers' career. A disassociated bundle of far too many tracks that should have been left off of the album to begin with, Stadium... plays well enough for most of the first disc but only tends to regurgitate itself as the journey steadies on a path that mixes pseudo funk jams and emoting California caution tales. The aging Chili Peppers, along with long-time producer Rick Rubin, despite the grand nature of a double LP, still seem remarkably set in their ways. There is actually a stubborn quality carrying throughout Stadium... which instills a distinct sense of fogeyism that, surprisingly, makes one long for those risk taking days of cocksocks and stage-diving. Things are so safe and run of the mill here. It's only annoying because any long term fan knows just how talented the band can be when they organically create music without bowing to the aforementioned success of their garden variety funk hybrids or tumbling, bass-pumping ballads.

It's for these reasons why I find One Hot Minute to be the group's most underrated album. Sonically it was all over the place, but it displayed an assured strip-down of the band's basic elements that was both brave and stumblingly effective. Dave Navarro's addition was an odd fit, to be sure, but was an obvious challenge to the Chili Peppers fundamental trappings that made for a jarring end result that was a wee bit more interesting than you would have expected. A pretty clear cut case of them following that old cliche': SUBSTANCE over STYLE. Since then, Frusciante's barefoot, post-rehab (seriously, good for him) stabs at minimalism as graceful grandiosity usually fall flat because, while he seems to be the ruling class in regards to writing the music by proxy, his intentions usually end up in direct conflict with how the band is meant to be portrayed. On Stadium... you DO get a "group effort", as decidedly forced as it ends up seeming, but it really only serves as a footnote to the unabashed way they've let their own style run away with their creative consciences. It's all just so boring in that cake without frosting sort of way. I'm not even a really that much of a frosting lover, but I appreciate the effort to make something taste all the more rich. As suspected for years (only so much more clear now) the Chili Peppers found their recipe. It can fill you up, sure; unfortunately you tend to remember nothing but its blandness.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I do`nt agree w/ any of your comment regarding the R.H.C.P. , & esp , the comment that stadiu Arcadium is a forced effort . An opinion is like an asshole , everybody has one , but yours is just plain old wrong !!!