Title: Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Artist: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Wikipedia, the font of all human knowledge, says that this album “is recognized as an influential and seminal component of the alternative rock explosion in the early 1990s.” Even though I was not only alive in the early 1990s (hard to believe from my pictures, I know), I was not only neither influenced nor a component of the alternative rock explosion of that era, a source of ceaseless derision from my contemporaries, I assure you. In short: I’m simply not cool enough for this musik.
Listening to this album felt like slipping on your babysitter’s leather jacket while she was sequestered in the formal living room on a cordless phone insisting her Jr. College Boyfriend be the first to hang up escaping the watchful eye of your real supervisor, Sam Malone while he momentarily receives womanizing advice from Coach. It didn’t fit – the leather jacket – not only because it was way too big, but also because nothing about its chic unassailable toughness was at all believable next to your frizzy-haired, brace-faced, awkward nerdiness. With every cut on this album I smoothed my bangs and ran my tongue across my teeth and just to be sure that my frizzy-haired, brace-faced awkward nerd wasn’t showing. But I did still manage to feel just a tiny bit cooler while partaking, even if for only the briefest of moments.
To my admittedly untrained ear, every song on this album sounded exactly the same: a hard-charging exterior armor stylistically protecting a gooey center of alternately romantic (even if blatantly caustic) sexuality and visceral self-doubt. The formula is as relevant today as it was in the 90s – I mean we all share those feelings, right? – but at 17 tracks, I felt halfway through the album like the kid who snuck a third cupcake at the birthday party: just too much of an OK thing.
My decidedly non-blob music-loving friend who is recommending all of the albums for this series has a very personal connection to this particular album, having enjoyed it as the soundtrack to a season in his life. Not having had the privilege of discovering this work during my own hard-charging, styleistically-sexual, and viscerally self-doubting phase (which, to be fair, never actually happened), I’ll never know if the failure I perceive in this album is really a failure in the timing of my adolescent phases or even a failure in me personally (both of which I’d readily admit).
OVERALL IMPACT ON MY FAITH IN HUMANITY
Zero sum. If anything, this reinforces my understanding that the world is ever-divided between the cool-kids and the squares, while I, myself, am ever-defined by my four indisputable corners.