Sound — 8
The one thing that should be said about this album is that, if you didn't like the Chili Peppers before, don't look to Stadium Arcadium to change your mind. This album covers every style of music they've ever touched, from the melodic pop of By the Way to the funky chaos of Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and it does it very well. The Chili Peppers are in top form, simply doing what they do best. John Frusciante is the stand out, with tight guitar riffs that play with Flea's bass work in inventive and beautiful ways. Chad's drumming is strong, with the African-drum sound on "Hard to Concentrate" particularly coming to mind. Overall, soundwise, its the same old Chili Peppers, doing what they do, and doing it very well.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics are occasionally both profound or meaningless, as is typical with Anthony Kiedis. Some of the stronger songs, or at least lyrics with more coherent and tangible meaning, would be "Dani California", "She's Only 18", "Hard to Concentrate" and "Desecration Smile". However, while the lyrics aren't particularly strong, its more about how they're sung. Kiedis has really evolved as a singer, from the empty, aggressive singing of the past, to the stronger melodicness of By the Way. Almost every song has a certain vocal part, usually the chorus, that will have you singing along. John Frusciante adds a lot of depth to the vocal sound with backing vocals that highlight and accentuate Kiedis' part. Overall, its really strong soundwise, but not so strong vocalwise.
Overall Impression — 9
This album is not Californication. It's not Blood Sugar Sex Magik. It's not Mother's Milk. Thankfully, it's also not By The Way. What it is, like I said, is the strongest parts of each of those. It's melodic, it rocks and a majority of the songs have at least something about them that stands out and will have you hooked. That's the one problem for me, though: a lot of the songs have a strong chorus melody, or something, but you have to sit through a less than stellar intro or verse to get to it. That's only on a few songs though. The only true filler, to me, would be "Stadium Arcadium", "Warlocks", "Hump De Bump" and maybe 2 or 3 others. However, there are definitely more strong tracks than there are filler. The chorus to "Charlie" is incredible, and "Hard to Concentrate" and "Desecration Smile" are strong, melodic and beautiful. If this were stolen or lost, I would buy it again because its worth it. It may not be their greatest, but when you're as good as the Chili Peppers, failing to meet expectations doesn't necessarily make a bad album. This is certainly a strong album, and it will grow on you.