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Review: Stadium Arcadium

The opening - rousing - chorus on the new, much-hyped double album from RHCP is "California Rest In Peace / Simultaneous Release" - and this just about sums it all up. It seems that, with the recent voracious rise of a China that has zero tolerance for Kyoto Protocols the world is suddenly in a boomtime, with an economic bubble that sees the value of everything rising at once - copper, gold, oil, property.

It is a heady counterintuitive moment - at once, the 00s are surfing on the edge of destruction but also, well, surfing. No other artists currently alive and so nakedly ubiquitous serenade this cocksure, self-destructive, overabundant moment so well as the Red Hot Chili Peppers. By thrusting their sugar-tongued subtext so firmly into a cheek bronzed in La-la Land, by making California their own Yeatsian Byzantium at the end of things (no country for fully-dressed men without six-pack torsos), that is, a place where annihilation and fulfillment collide in a tectonic shift of ecstatic proportions, they summarize the world's ills even as they replicate them in miniature, by being exactly the avatar of what ails us: total psycho-sexual commodifornication at the hands of American Entertainment (Hollywood).

Sure, the Chilis croon in their comfortably funky, always the same but subtly varied way, we know California is Satan - but it's so damn good. Want some? And, to paraphrase Homer Simpson (not the one that came to die in California, but the cartoon) - because it's true, it's even better. Thus it is they are always able to capture the language of film and TV business - and its slightly coked-up jitter (listen to "Snow (Hey Ho)" track two or "Charlie" track three) - as in "simultaneous release" - while also making sure the more ejaculatory double-meaning is also prominent.

There is something of a digital conquest in this vast array of 28 songs - like the simultaneous release of films that aims to swamp pirates with a surplus even they cannot capture and profit from - this is a tidal flood of material that could eradicate New Orleans. What is "a perfect wonder" about this release is that is utterly unrequired.

Rick Rubin has now mastered a sound that suits the band to a T, and makes them simultaneously dangerous and "white as snow" - safe for middle-class consumption, timelessly well-crafted, and yet still subversive enough (all the drug and sex imagery) to attract and impress. After the Stones and U2, they are now the world's best, and best-loved, stadium act - and they have several albums under their belts that are works of near-genius, such as BloodSugarSexMagik, the second best album of the American 90s, after Nevermind.

And, indeed, it is timely to be reminded of their dead rival, Kurt Cobain, since he signally achieved what they have failed to: a terminated longetivity; instead, since signing to Warner Bros. (that suitably Hollywood outfit) 15 years ago, they have managed, despite living a public/personal life arguably more deranged and decadent than Rimbaud could have envisaged, to craft a career that results in sturdy, new-and-improved product at regular intervals: excess and success merged ("a little Beatlemania when I can"). Since RHCP are nominally socially-aware, this is not meant to be Marxist critique of their working methods. It is an appreciation of their superfluity.

As such, there is no need to review this new album. What is there to say that we do not already know about these fully transparent comedians of what-can-be-done - their endless supply of outrageous, ingenious and often toe-curdling puns and daredevil, careless language play making them red-blooded heirs to Bob Dylan, even Paul Muldoon.

As big as the movies, almost as big as Sinatra or Elvis or The Doors (their only American precursors, surely, in terms of mass appeal and artistic-financial clout at this gigantic moment for them) - the Chilis are now bigger than the stadiums built to contain them. Thus, they've built a planet-sized twin album to bust out, just enough to keep fans wanting, until the next release.

For the record, there are six or seven killer tracks here, as good as anything on Californication or By the Way - such as "Especially in Michigan" or "C'mon Girl" or "Wet Sand" (and the first four songs on album one) but no "Under The Bridge". That would have been news.

Eyewear gives Stadium Arcadium 5 out of 5 specs.



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